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All but one councilman approved public-safety compensation package

By: Patty McAlpin, Reporter
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A question of fairness was debated amongst the Lincoln City Council members Nov. 13 when a councilman questioned why the city is changing the compensation package for the bargaining unit representing police and fire mid-management.

The Lincoln City Council approved the modifications to the contract on a four to one vote with Councilman Gabriel Hydrick dissenting.

Hydrick asked that the item be pulled from the consent agenda for discussion.

“Why are they being treated more favorably?” Hydrick asked.

Councilman Tom Cosgrove said he “does not believe” mid-management is being treated more favorably.

“It’s more about them being treated fairly,” Cosgrove said.

The city and the mid-management bargaining unit entered a new memorandum of understanding in May.

The Lincoln Fire and Police Mid-management group were the first to come to the table in March with a new contract, according to Mayor Spencer Short.

The city adopted contracts with the other five labor groups in August.

When the mid-management unit reopened its contract, the unit agreed to absorb its share of PERS, took no merit increases and no cost-of-living adjustments.

“They gave the city significant financial relief when they didn’t have to,” Cosgrove said. “They had an existing contract that was in place and they could have ignored the city.”

Cosgrove said the unit initiated the discussions with City Council.

“I think it is unfair to subject them to stricter terms than were negotiated by the other groups,” Cosgrove said.

The other bargaining groups were the Lincoln Police Officers Association and the Lincoln Firefighters Association.

Lincoln Police and Fire Mid-management Supervisory Bargain unit represents eight members.

The new agreement addresses the same wage increases (2.5 percent and 2.7 percent) that the police and fire bargaining units agreed to, rolling the uniform cleaning allowance into base wage, having health-care deductions taken out of two checks per month rather than one, no longer cashing out administrative leave for the remaining calendar years of contract and re-adjusting vacation levels of accruals.

Effective Oct. 1, 2012, employees within the mid-management bargaining unit receive a wage increase of 2.5 percent. Effective Jan. 1, 2013, employees in the unit receive a wage increase of 2.75 percent.

The proposed changes to the agreement take effect for the duration of the contract, which goes through June 30, 2015.