Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Firefighters and city of Oldsmar at impasse over contract

OLDSMAR — The city has declared an impasse in union contract negotiations with its rank-and-file firefighters.

The biggest obstacle to reaching agreement, according to the union: The city wants to force the firefighters back into the state public employees retirement system, where they would not get credit for the years they worked under the city pension plan.

The two sides still are talking — the next negotiating session is scheduled for Jan. 6 — but City Manager Bruce Haddock declared the impasse in a Dec. 5 letter to the Public Employee Relations Commission in Tallahassee.

Haddock wrote there are four areas of disagreement: "holidays, pay plan, retirement benefits and benefits supplement.'' He requested a list of names of qualified special magistrates that could hear the case.

Haddock declined to comment for this story. However, Jason Schwabe, who represents International Association of Firefighters Local 2980, which represents Palm Harbor and Oldsmar firefighters, said retirement benefits are the primary hurdle to reaching agreement.

"We're still meeting and we still might be able to reach an agreement, but I think the city just feels like it's not going further ahead so they sent the letter,'' Schwabe said.

According to Schwabe, the city wants to move the firefighters out of their current pension plan, a city-managed plan, back into the Florida Retirement System plan, administered by the state's retirement division. City firefighters participated in that plan until 1996.

However, firefighters "would lose the number of years of service we've earned towards retirement,'' Schwabe said. "We'd have to start back at zero.''

For more than four months, the city and firefighters have been discussing the collective bargaining agreement that expired on Sept. 30.

"Early on, the non-economic items were agreed upon ... like the clean-up items. Instead of distributing a hard copy of the contract, there will be a computer copy of the contract available, for example,'' Schwabe said.

However, when the talks turned to benefits, firefighters were disappointed. At first they hoped that if they did change to the state system, they could buy back their years of service.

"Say if a firefighter started in 2001, they'd have about 13 years in the city plan. We wanted that to mean that if the city pension plan was terminated, that the firefighter could take his money in the plan, say $50,000, and buy the 13 years of time, but it can't be done because of the way the state has it set up,'' Schwabe said. "We want to keep what we have. Our focus is limiting the cost so that we can stay in the city plan.''

When Schwabe was asked why he thought the city wanted to make the changes, he recalled what he said Haddock told him: "The reason explained to me was that the city wanted to get out of the pension business.''

Oldsmar already has reached agreement with the unit that represents Oldsmar fire supervisors. That contract was finalized by the City Council on Dec. 3.

Piper Castillo can be reached at (727) 445-4163 or

Firefighters and city of Oldsmar at impasse over contract 12/10/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 5:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays set to activate Tommy Hunter from DL


    The Rays plan to activate RHP Tommy Hunter from the DL for Thursday's series finale against the Angels.

  2. Reporter says Republican candidate in Montana body-slammed him (w/video)


    HELENA, Mont. — Witnesses said the Republican candidate for Montana's sole congressional seat body-slammed a reporter Wednesday, the day before the polls close in the nationally watched special election. Authorities said late Wednesday that Greg Gianforte has been cited for misdemeanor assault over incident with …

    Greg Gianforte, right, receives congratulations from a supporter in Helena, Mont., in March. [Associated Press]
  3. Culpepper falls just short on 'Survivor' finale

    Human Interest

    In the end, Tampa lawyer Brad Culpepper fell just short, and the ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneer lost Survivor: Game Changers and the $1 million prize to Sarah Lacina, a police officer from Iowa.

  4. Families dispute claims that slain Tampa Palms roommates shared neo-Nazi beliefs


    TAMPA — Andrew Oneschuk never liked making small talk on the phone, his father said, but the last time the two spoke, something seemed off.

    Andrew Oneschuk and Jeremy Himmelman lived in a Tampa Palms apartment with Devon Arthurs and Brandon Russell. Oneschuk and Himmelman reportedly planned to move out.
  5. Brad Culpepper makes it to final 3 on Survivor, but jury picks Sarah

    The Feed

    UPDATE, WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Tampa's Brad Culpepper make it to the final 3 on Survivor, but jurors chose Sarah as the winner of the $1 million.

    Original report follows:

    "The Tables Have Turned" - Brad Culpepper, Tai Trang and Hali Ford on the fourth episode of SURVIVOR: Game Changers on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS Entertainment