Jacksonville police approve contract with 3 percent salary cut

JACKSONVILLE, FL &#8211 Members of the local Fraternal Order of Police have overwhelming approved a contract with Jacksonville that will see them take a 3 percent pay cut and pay more of their insurance costs.

Almost 90 percent of the voting membership approved the deal that will give the unionized members of the Sheriff’s Office a deal running through September 2014.

It will save the city $20.1 million over three years.

“I hope this helps with whatever future plans the mayor and the council have in place to bring jobs to this community,” said local FOP President Nelson Cuba.

The deal was rejected by 165 of the 1,551 union members who voted, with rank-and-file corrections officers the most opposed.

Under the terms of the agreement hammered out this month, the pay cut will be retroactive to the beginning of the month, with that money coming out of the next several paychecks.

The union members also will pay 5 percent of their health insurance costs with a monthly cap of $30. Officers who live outside the county who take patrol cars home with them will have to reimburse the city $50 a month.

The deal now needs City Council approval. It was tentatively approved by the union leadership almost two weeks ago after more than two years of wrangling.

Over that time, the city raised its demands from a 2 percent pay cut to a 4 percent cut before coming back to 3 percent.

Although the union membership overwhelming rejected a 2 percent cut a year ago, Cuba had said this vote would be different.

On Friday, he said the deal — which preserved a series of raises that kick in after officers have been on the force for several years — gives the officers stability.

“It gives them an idea of where they are,” he said. “They can plan ahead.”

The vote also provides certainty for the city, Mayor Alvin Brown said.

“It shows the union’s willingness to come to table and reach an agreement,” Brown said. “It’s yet another example of what we can accomplish when we work together to take Jacksonville to the next level.”

As for the 48 officers laid off in October, Cuba said Sheriff John Rutherford has told him they might be brought back once the cuts go into effect.

In addition, at least 47 officers will be retiring this year, according to pension system records.

The signing of the deal with the police and corrections officers doesn’t mean all is quiet on the labor front.

In 2010, Jacksonville firefighters, who had their own contentious negotiations with the city, agreed to a contract with a 2 percent cut. That deal runs out in September, which means both sides will soon be back at the bargaining table.

From The Florida Times-Union.