Fire contract hearing draws few comments

Fire contract hearing draws few comments

By Erin Golden December 12, 2012 11:17 am Comments

The crowd at the City Council’s public hearing on the tentative labor contract between the city and the fire union was fairly small, with just four supporters and four opponents addressing the council.

Just about everyone who spoke said they were not completely sold on the plan, which comes with an average wage increase of 1.6 percent per year and is projected to save Omaha’s police and fire pension fund $822 million over the next 50 years. Some said the city is still giving up too much in the negotiation and that the contract shouldn’t mention controversial staffing provisions.

But Mark McQueen, the attorney who negotiated the deal on behalf of the city, argued against those points and others he said have been made by members of the public.

“If the City Council does not agree to the staffing terms that I’ve just described, you don’t have a contract,” McQueen said. “It’s that simple. And without a contract, you don’t have pension reform of any type and you don’t have health care reform to the level we’ve achieved.”

The council is scheduled to vote on the issue next week.