Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City, Police Union Talks at Bitter Impasse; Contract Discussions Turn Personal as FOP Insists the Money Is There

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City, Police Union Talks at Bitter Impasse; Contract Discussions Turn Personal as FOP Insists the Money Is There

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton and the leader of the local police union traded barbs Tuesday after long-running contract talks stalled for a second time.

During the negotiating session, which ended in impasse, Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba asked a city negotiator if Peyton was "misinformed or lying to the public," and insinuated the mayor was hiding money for "secret projects."

Later in the day, Peyton said the course of negotiations has shown that Cuba's "integrity and judgment are in question."

"It says we are better served by being at impasse," Peyton said about the outcome of the talks.

The two-hour session came about two weeks after 99 percent of voting police and corrections officers rejected a tentative agreement reached in December with Cuba's approval.

But Cuba voted against that agreement, action that city negotiator Leonard Carson called improper.

"To talk against it and speak against it and, in fact, engineer a vote against it is bad faith bargaining," Carson said.

The two sides had reached the tentative agreement on Dec. 15, the day before they were to go before a special magistrate in the wake of impasse being declared. In the days before that, Cuba had called for a meeting with the mayor and the two hashed out the deal.

Cuba said he brought the agreement to the union membership to demonstrate that the workers didn't like the terms, rather than it being a personal problem between him and Peyton.

He said he told the union the deal wasn't a good one because a forensic auditor hired by the union had uncovered a $100 million "slush fund," money which the city said is in needed reserve accounts.

Tuesday, Cuba focused on $12.7 million he said the city had in its budget to make up the difference if unionized workers did not agree to pay cuts and insurance contributions. …

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