Judge Sides With Union In Omaha Labor Dispute; City Was Planning to Re-Negotiate Police Contracts With Pension Reform in Mind

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Omaha officials were planning on re-negotiating the city’s contract with police officers, and those negotiations were likely to include some changes to pension benefits – one of the city’s top fiscal priorities in 2015 is easing its unfunded pension liabilities.

But a judge ruled last week that the City didn’t provide labor groups with written notice that it would be re-opening negotiations. As a result, the police officers’ current contracts will not expire by the end of the year.

That could make it more difficult for the City to re-negotiate contracts to its liking.

More from KETV Omaha:

The city of Omaha will appeal a ruling that determined its labor agreement with the police union rolled over into 2014.

It’s a move the city calls surprising and disappointing.

[…]

“An appeal is necessary to protect the city’s right to achieve additional pension reform in 2014,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “From the outset, we informed the OPOA that pension reform was one of our top priorities. Addressing the unfunded pension liability cannot wait. The OPOA must work with us, not look for gotcha tactics to delay negotiations.”

[…]

The union filed the lawsuit in June, alleging the city did not provide written notice to open contract negotiations by the April 1 deadline, and therefore, the current labor agreement, which was set to expire on Dec. 21, 2013, automatically rolled over into 2014.

On Wednesday, Douglas County District Court Judge Joseph Troia issued a ruling in favor of the police union.

“Neither the Association nor the City served written notice upon the other before April 1, 2014 of its intent to reopen negotiations,” the ruling said.

Troia wrote that the city’s written request to reopen negotiations didn’t come until April 17, when the city’s negotiator sent an email to the president of the police union.

Omaha has sent a letter to the union requesting a formal start to 2015 negotiations.

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