Omaha Public Radio News
3:58 pm
Tue August 30, 2011

Omaha City Council votes to take back bargaining power

Omaha, NE – The Omaha City Council has approved an ordinance giving them, or a designated representative, the power to negotiate new contracts with labor unions.

Councilman Chris Jerram introduced the resolution, expressing dissatisfaction over how negotiations between the city of Omaha and the fire union were handled. 12 years ago, Council members voted to delegate the city's collective bargaining power with unions to the Mayor.

Councilman Franklin Thompson says giving that power back to the Council is better for taxpayers. "I do want to remind this Council that one of the reasons why they did give the power up is because it was a difficult process for seven people to do. Having said that, it still may end up being a better process and a better product in the end."

Council President Tom Mulligan says the resolution means contract discussions will be ongoing. "Unfortunately, in this case it appears we've reached an impasse, and by the passage of this resolution we, the Council, will ensure that labor negotiations for the city of Omaha will continue." Councilmen Garry Gernandt and Ben Gray did not attend the meeting.

The vote followed the City Council's action placing the original fire contract on file, essentially killing the agreement. The fire union filed a prohibited practice complaint with the Commission of Industrial Relations following the Council's August 16th rejection of an amended fire union deal.