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Breakthrough in talks to end pensions for future city hires

Jacksonville: The Florida Times-Union

By David Bauerlein, March 20, 2017

JEA and IBEW March 20 2017_Jacksonville FL Times Union.jpgThe campaign to close Jacksonville’s pension plans to all future employees got back on track Monday when the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers reached a tentative agreement with JEA a week after the union’s members rejected a previous offer.

A centerpiece of Mayor Lenny Curry’s pension reform package is to close all three pension plans to new hires after Sept. 30 when they would all go into 401(k) style investment accounts. 

Unions representing workers in the Police and Fire Pension Fund and the Corrections Officers Pension Plan have signed off on the change for future hires. But there is unfinished business for the General Employees Pension Plan because rank-and-file members of IBEW and Laborers’ International Union of North America rejected offers last week from JEA.

JEA and IBEW met again Monday and reached a tentative agreement on a pact that sweetens the pay raises previously put on the table. Instead of 3-percent pay raises per year for three years, IBEW employees would get annual 4.5-percent raises for three years.

The tentative agreement also spelled out in greater detail benefits future hires would get in the 401(k) style accounts.

In a sign of the importance in getting an agreement worked out, CEO Paul McElroy was among the JEA administrators at the collective bargaining session.

“It’s been a long process over the past year,” McElroy said after the tentative agreement got signed by both sides. “I think we’re in a good spot.”

A significant difference from the JEA offer rejected last week is that the tentative agreement reached Monday is supported by IBEW leaders. They will recommend rank-and-file members vote for it on Thursday.

JEA will return Tuesday to the bargaining table with LIUNA. Three other groups representing JEA workers in the General Employees Pension Plan have already signed off on tentative agreements, as have groups representing city workers.

David Bauerlein: (904) 359-4581