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NE: Council approves fire contract

By   /   December 18, 2012  /   4 Comments

DEAL DONE: Despite recent complaints from several candidates for mayor the City Council today, by a vote of 6-1, OK’d its deal with the Omaha Fire Union.

Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

OMAHA — After nearly eight years, the city has a new contract with the Omaha Fire Union.

Despite recent complaints from several candidates for mayor, the City Council today, by a vote of 6-1, approved its deal with the Omaha Fire Union.

Four Democrats and two Republicans backed the agreement. Only Republican Franklin Thompson voted no.

Thompson, who has a long history of run-ins with the union, said he was voting against the agreement because “the union plays hardball a little too much.”

According to many members of the council, the new contract has received little criticism from the general public.

Council members Jean Stothert, a Republican, and Chris Jerram, a Democrat, argue the four-year deal, which runs through the end of 2014, comes with a year-and-a-half pay freeze, ends pension spiking, raises the retirement age for new hires from 45 to 55 and includes major pension and health care reforms.

While some on the council call the deal a “good first step,” Council President Tom Mulligan, a Republican, said it’s a “major improvement” over other deals.

During the past few days, two Republican mayoral hopefuls, Dave Nabity and Dan Welch, ripped the deal.

Nabity complained that the contract’s pension provisions, which are based on an annual rate of return on investments of 8 percent, “is unrealistic.”

Nabity says 5 percent is more likely and says without adjusting the contract the city is “headed for the cliff.”

Welch says the contract “violates the city charter” by forcing taxpayers to contribute nearly twice as much to the pension fund as firefighters.

Jerram, who mentioned neither Nabity nor Welch by name, insisted the two had their facts all wrong and said opposing the contract would be “fiscal insanity.”

A year and a half ago, after rejecting a contract between Mayor Jim Suttle and the fire union, the council pulled the mayor away from the bargaining table and took over the talks which resulted in today’s deal.

Although the council insists it’s saving taxpayer dollars, Fire Union President Steve LeClair recently told Nebraska Watchdog that Suttle put up a tougher fight.

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org

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Joe Jordan

  • http://www.facebook.com/ricky.fulton Ricky Fulton

    Finally a deal but is this a much better one than the city had 16 months ago? How much did negotiator Mr McQueen charge Omaha for the mediation?
    I don’t think the council should have the authority to negotiate deals; it should be the Mayor of the City so one person can be held responsible.
    Is the Platte Institute or the Omaha Alliance for the Private Sector (astroturf organizations) relevant to this deal? Not at all I wish they would pipe down they are meaningless.

    Ricky from omaha

  • Jazzee

    no the taxpayers are relevant and we allow the council/mayor to keep giving away the goodies
    when will we ever say enough is enough
    check out the contract ……another sweet deal at taxpayer expense again

  • Kevin

    Really? Do you honestly think that the mayor can negotiate a contract that is fair to the taxpayers? Suttle has proven that he is not capable of drafting a contract that benefits everyone.

  • Hunyock

    Really Kevin. Most of the things that Stothert was complaining about is in this contract as well. The one thing that she was pointing to was the fact that she got the firefighters to pay 1% of their wages into their pension fund. However, Stothert also gave the firefighter higher raises than Mayor Suttle. An estimated 4% more over 2012-2014. Sounds like the city is still paying the same for the pension by just giving the firefighters the wage increases for the difference and then some more on top of that. Check the OWH article and you will find it if you actually read more than the headline.