Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City, FOP Agree to Pay Cuts for Police; the Deal, Similar to What Fire Union OK'd, Will Leave the Pension Fund Alone

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City, FOP Agree to Pay Cuts for Police; the Deal, Similar to What Fire Union OK'd, Will Leave the Pension Fund Alone

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

The Jacksonville police union tentatively agreed Wednesday to have its members take a 2 percent pay cut and pay part of their insurance costs, the penultimate step in reaching an agreement with the city.

The two-year deal, similar to the one reached between the fire union and city in October, takes a big step toward ending months of contentious negotiations that seemed destined to fall to the City Council. Once put into place, the contract - which covers police and corrections officers- will save the city a total of about $5 million in salary and benefits over the two years.

Fraternal Order of Police negotiators were willing to move ahead because the city agreed to take pension fund changes out of the contract. In return, the contract binds the union to support whatever changes emanate from the Police and Fire Pension Fund, an independent agency.

"That's been one of our top issues," Jacksonville police union president Nelson Cuba said Wednesday. "We've never negotiated pensions. We're not going to start now."

The change allows the city to move ahead with negotiating changes with the pension board, city Human Resources Director Chad Poppell said.

"It is significant," Poppell said. "[Cuba] wanted pensions off the table; we wanted his support. It's big for us; it's big for him."

The city agreed to take out the pension-related provisions in its offer several weeks ago, after the firefighters had agreed to a contract after similar language was removed.

Since the city began negotiating with the unions, it also started talking with the pension board, one reason Cuba thinks the city was willing to make the change.

"They started seeing meaningful discussion between them and the pension office," he said. "They saw it was working."

The pension board has begun work on a draft report studying the mayor's proposal and decided Wednesday to authorize a $10,000 actuarial study of his plan. …

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