Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Waycross Police Hit by Sickout Small Pay Raise Has Officers `Ill'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Waycross Police Hit by Sickout Small Pay Raise Has Officers `Ill'

Article excerpt

Waycross police officers have been off the job for two days to

protest what they call a too modest pay raise and to seek

improvements in their pension plan.

City Manager C.B. "Bucky" Heys said about 95 percent of the

police force below the rank of lieutenant called in sick Tuesday

and stayed out again yesterday.

Patrol officer Beth Littleton, spokeswoman for the officers,

said about 35 called in sick.

The officers that were to have come to work at midnight Monday

called in sick and it spread to subsequent shifts, Heys said.

The sickout, known in police circles as "blue flu," occurred

after a Monday afternoon meeting with city commissioners.

At that meeting, Littleton said, little was accomplished.

"What the commissioners told us made us ill," she said. "I

really don't know when we're going to get better."

The officers asked for a 5 percent pay raise for police and

fire personnel, 2 percent higher than the commissioners approved

beginning with the July 1 fiscal year. The officers also want

the retirement age lowered to 55 with 25 years of service,

rather than the current 60 with 30 years of service.

Littleton said the change makes sense considering the nature of

the work.

"We don't feel an officer at 60 years of age can go out and

chase someone down and put them in the car," she said.

Police Chief W. Lynn Taylor said he has not been in on

negotiations between the officers and the commissioners.

"So far, we've been able to deliver quality police service

uninterrupted and will continue to do so," Taylor said.

The few patrol officers who remained on the job have combined

with supervising officers to provide protection, he said.

As part of their demands, Waycross police officers also:

Want retirement benefits improved from the current 37 percent

of active pay. …

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