Unions Approve Omaha Pension Reforms

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A third union has approved a contract with the city of Omaha, Nebraska that features major pension changes.

Among the changes: new employees will be shifted into a cash balance plan and the full retirement age will be raised. In exchange, Omaha will increase its payments into the city’s pension fund and employees will receive a raise.

From NBC Omaha:

Monday, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert’s office announced a third and final civilian union in contract negotiations has approved an offer which includes changing to a cash balance pension plan for new employees.

A news release from the office says the offer “solves the underfunded pension liability and achieves unprecedented pension reform.”

CMPTEC members were the last union group to accept an offer changing from defined benefits to a cash balance plan. The change only impacts new employees hired after January 1st.

The unions include CMPTEC, Local 251 and the Functional Employees Group. A fourth group, AEC, is not represented by a bargaining unit, but it will receive the same benefits.

Each group’s agreement allows current employees to remain in the existing pension plan with reduced benefits and an extension to the number of years required to achieve normal retirement.

In return, the City agreed to increase contributions to the pension fund by 7% over the five-year agreement, give employees a 9% raise over the five-year period, and a 1% one-time “lump sum supplement” for 2013 when wage freezes were enacted.

“I am grateful to the membership, the union negotiators and our negotiating team led by Mark McQueen and Steve Kerrigan for agreements that are good for our employees and the taxpayers,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

The Personnel Board has already approved the Local 251 agreement. In January, they will meet to approve the other two. The City Council must also approve the contracts.

The contracts run through 2017.

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.