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Agreement reached between city, smallest civilian union

Agreement reached between city, smallest civilian union

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The City of Omaha has reached a tentative labor contract agreement with the city's smallest civilian collective bargaining unit, Mayor Jean Stothert announced Thursday.

The agreement is with the Functional Employees Group, which represents 21 administrative assistants and clerical workers. Affiliated with Teamsters Local 554, the group is separate from other city unions because the employees sometimes see confidential information in their jobs about other unions' labor negotiations.

The Functional Employees Group is the smallest of three unions of City of Omaha civilian employees.

Its members have yet to ratify

the agreement, but a vote is scheduled for next week, the Mayor's Office said. The five-year agreement then would go to the City Personnel Board and City Council.

The deal is "nearly identical to an agreement ratified last month by Local 251, the city's largest civilian union," according to a press release from the Mayor's Office.

The agreement with the Functional Employees Group includes a cash balance pension plan for new employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2015.

Current employees would remain on the existing pension plan, with reduced pension benefits and an increase in the number of years required to reach normal retirement, according to the Mayor's Office.

The city agreed to increase its contributions to the pension fund by 7 percent over the five years. The deal includes a combined 9 percent hourly wage increase over the five years.

Val Johnson, president of the Functional Employees Group, called it "a fair agreement for employees and the city," in a statement released by the Mayor's Office.

Stothert called the agreement "another important step toward solving the (city's) unfunded pension liability."

A cash balance plan is a combination of the traditional pension and a 401(k)-style plan. Local 251 was the first civilian union to ratify a contract including such a plan.

Omaha's civilian management union, which represents about 375 employees, has voted down a proposed contract with a cash balance pension plan. It is expected to vote on a similar offer from the city in the next few weeks.

Larry Tatum, president of the union, confirmed that, saying the latest proposal includes small changes from the one the union voted down.

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