Posted by: Ken Riter | August 17, 2012

What Happened to Omaha’s Fire Union Contract?

OMAHA, NE – What ever happened to Omaha’s Fire Union Contract?  With all this outcry led by City Council members over Mayor Suttle’s pay increases, you’d think this small group of people were trying to cover their mistakes on a Fire contract.  Negotiations for the Fire contract were taken from the Mayor by the City Council last year this month. The lack of an agreement is costing Omaha taxpayers $4,200,000 in wages and some $15,000,000 in pension shortfalls. Yet our hypocritical City Council is bashing the Mayor over a piddly $59,000 in pay increases to three deserving non-unionized city employees. Who is going to admonish the City Council for their $4,200,000 mistake?   The City Council’s negotiator even agreed to a $94,000 pay increase for the Fire Management Team.  This, after the City Council promised tax payers they would get a better deal.  Too bad City Council members have been tight lipped on what a better deal really IS to taxpayers.  I, for once, would like to see Jean Stothert  practice what she preaches and actually RISE ABOVE THE RHETORIC!!!

City Council's Lack of Leadership Costing Millions!

City Council’s Lack of Leadership Costing Millions!

In contast, Mayor Suttle successfully negotiated agreements with police and fire unions that froze wages, ended spiking, raised the retirement age, increased individual pension contributions, cut benefits, increased health care premiums and would have settled all pending litigation against the city. Even if the contract wasn’t where the City Council demanded it be at, Mayor Suttle’s Fire contract still would have saved the taxpayer $4.2 million in Union wages, plus it froze wages, something the Fire Union agreed to.

Jean Stothert’s FaceBook page has had Omahans ragin about the issue. Some people actually had facts to bring up. One Fire Union member, Adam Ohrt, posted this on Jean Stothert’s FB page, “As a union we voted for pension concessions for current members and to pay more for our health care. The contract that the city council claimed to be a bad deal in the long run would have a little more than a year left now. In 2010 alone voting the contract down cost the city over 4million just in wages. I do not know of any firefighter who is worse off now because the contract was voted down. I know of many (myself included) who are better off. These are the facts. ”    What I don’t understand is why didn’t the City Council just approve the contract to save taxpayers $4,200,000 if they were planning on taking over negotiations from the Mayor.  Ohrt’s realization as too the costs of the City Council’s mistakes is an eye opener.

In the same thread, Jean Stothert makes this false claim, “Also – the $4.2 million that OFD is overbudget – is NOT because of the lost salary freezes for 2010 and first half of 2011. That amount is budgeted and incumbered in the budget in the wage adjustment account. The “overage” is due to overtime and other operational expenses.”  What a coincidence that it amounts to $4,200,000, right Jean?

Here is Ohrt’s response, “This a visual representation of the cost of you voting down the last contract. As far as the comment of our children and grandchildren paying for the contract just goes to show how out of touch you are. That contract would have expired in 16 months. We would currently be going back to the negotiating table in a weaker position paying more for health care and getting less in pension benefits. This would be to the advantage of the city, but thankfully we are not at that point. It does however pain me to see you spin this for your political gain at the expense of the taxpayers. ”

I would like to hear what exactly the City Council to trying to get in it deals with the Unions.  Perhaps some TRANSPARENCY on the part of Omaha’s City Council is in order.  Perhaps the real question to ask your City Council member concerning the Fire contract is, “What is it costing the city now vs. what it would have cost the city for the time these negotiations are going on?”

If you are on FaceBook, be sure to LIKE this new Facebook page, Omaha City Council Watch.  Let’s hold the Omaha City Council accountable for its actions for a change!


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