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JEA union OKs raises from 2% to 5% a year

JAX Daily Record

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
By Max Marbut, Staff Writer

Just minutes before JEA’s board of directors met Tuesday, CEO Paul McElroy and Ronnie Burris, Business Manager of Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 630, reached an agreement on the details of the last of new contracts with the five unions representing JEA employees.

Monday is the deadline for JEA to conclude its collective bargaining negotiations, with board approval and agreements ready to be sent to City Council.

The laborers’ union was the last to reach agreement.

“We were later than the others because we didn’t feel we could talk about economics until we knew whether the pension plan was approved,” said Burris, referring to voter approval in November of a half-cent sales tax to pay down the pension plans’ $2.8 billion in unfunded liabilities. The tax will not go into effect until around 2031.

JEA already reached agreements with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, JEA Supervisors Association, Professional Employees Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

All of the new agreements include pay raises of at least 2 percent to compensate for an additional contribution from employees, ranging from 8 to 10 percent of their salaries.

The payroll amount increase for JEA for the five agreements is about $20.5 million over the three-year terms of the agreements.

Three of the unions’ members have approved the agreements, with the IBEW and LIUNA each voting later this week.

McElroy said the electrical workers union leadership is confident the members will vote in favor of the new contract on Thursday.

“We reached agreement at the table,” he said.

Burris is equally confident about his membership’s vote scheduled Friday.

“We got the best pay raise,” he said. “We’ve endorsed it. I see no reason it won’t pass.”

“This is the final piece of the puzzle in the city’s pension plan,” McElroy said.

While the other new contracts include pay raises of 2 to 3 percent per year, the laborers’ new deal is a 4.5 percent raise the first year, 5 percent the second year and 4.5 percent in the third year.

The total increase in salaries over three years included in the new agreements is about $20.5 million.

The contracts will become part of the pension reform package the mayor’s office will present as an ordinance to council, expected early in April. | (904) 356-2466