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FOP, City of Jacksonville Square Off Over Contract Again, Still Stuck

10:27 PM, Nov 10, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The city and police union have returned to the table but apparently they remain at a stalemate.

Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba told city of Jacksonville negotiators Thursday that the union is rejecting all of the city's proposals. The negotiations began at 2:30 this afternoon and didn't wrap up until almost 8pm.

The city is asking for a 3 percent pay cut, but the FOP is agreeing only to a 2 percent pay cut. The city wants concessions of $20 million in wages and other benefits, but the union is offering $12 million in concessions.

But the focal point of the meetings has been some recently laid off officers.

"I'm still a little disappointed that these promises were made and now I'm hearing that that's not going to happen," said FOP President Nelson Cuba.  

He is still holding out hope that 48 police officers the department let go earlier this year will be rehired, but in this tense round of negotiations, it doesn't look like they're any closer to getting their jobs back.

"Even if it's not given to me and my organization, every single one of those officers who were laid off and were told that should receive an apology," he said.  

Cuba said that apology should come from the Sheriff. Chief Labor and Employment Lawyer Derrel Chatmon said there was never any guarantee the officers would rejoin JSO, and he can't give any assurances they will.

"I can't say that, because there are a lot of decisions that have to be made to make that a reality," said Chatmon.

Chatmon said he's speaking for Mayor Alvin Brown in assuring the FOP this negotiation is a priority, but it's not his only priority.

"In short, public safety is very important to him. However, so is the future of this entire community. It's not just the membership of the FOP," he said.  

The two sides are arguing over a number of issues, including wages, pensions, health care, and step increases Cuba says his force was promised.

"They're not going to stick around knowing they're never going to achieve that higher wage or step that was put in place for that specific reason," said Cuba.  

But both sides are still coming to the table. After six hours of negotiations on Saturday, and five hours on Thursday, they're still trying to hash it out.

"If nothing else it's the possibility of getting to a good place, and that starts with sitting down at the table," said Chatmon.

Negotiations will continue Wednesday.

First Coast News

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