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Tampa reaches agreement with one of three labor unions

Published Oct. 20, 2016

TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn's administration has negotiated a three-year contract with 3 percent raises each year for the city's blue-collar, clerical and technical workers.

But negotiations with the unions for police and firefighters are still going.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1464, which represents about 1,700 city employees, voted 651 to 19 to accept the agreement, and the City Council ratified it on Thursday.

"A decent contract, and I think the cost-of-living was fair," ATU president Effrem Green said. "Mr. Buckhorn has been fair with the general employees."

Buckhorn says he expects to come to agreement with police and firefighters, but "it's a little more complicated because they were wanting to negotiate a few more things than the ATU was."

"I think we're going to get it done," he said. "It may take a while, but both sides are working well together. There hasn't been any animosity. It's been a good, strong working relationship."

Issues the Tampa Police Benevolent Association has brought up include overtime policies and pay for officers who serve on special squads like the dive team, or motorcycle, tactical response, hostage negotiation and equestrian squads.

The International Association of Firefighters Local 754 has made proposals about seniority in promotions, vehicle staffing, scheduling and how the city should pay for bunker gear and protective cancer-resistant hoods.

On pay, firefighters union president Stephen Suarez said the union "went in big, hoping for the world," but he said he expects "we'll be close on that in the end."

In other business, the council scheduled a Nov. 3 vote on a 180-day freeze on processing proposals for medical marijuana dispensaries or related facilities inside city limits. The pause is designed to give local officials a chance to put rules in place if Florida voters approve the Amendment 2 referendum to allow medical marijuana.

Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com.