City reaches one-year contract deal with cops

Major contract negotiation news today:

The city and the Fraternal Order of Police have agreed to a new one-year contract  proposed by an arbitration panel. It's the first time in recent memory that the city has so quickly struck a deal with police, whose negotiations usually drag on for months.

Mayor Nutter said the city wanted a year-long contract so that they could spend more time analyzing health benefits. This contract will establish a health care committee with representation from the city and the FOP. Nutter said the committee would be "open to rethinking the entire benefit funding and delivery system.”

Many insiders think this is a step towards trying to merge the health care plans of all four city unions. Currently each union -- police, firefighters, white collar workers and blue collar workers  -- runs their own plan.

Nutter did not explicitly speak about a merger, but he did say: "we cannot continue down the same path without some serious changes." He asked that the other city unions join the committee also.

"We're all in this together," he said.

The FOP contract will cost the city $9.3 million. It provides a 3.5 percent raise, but decreases the amount paid per capita to the police health fund. Nutter said the city is paying exactly what the union needs to maintain it's current level of benefits.

FOP President John McNesby said the union would accept the deal, although they had asked for a three-year contract.

"We would have loved to have longer than a one year deal, but the fact of the matter is it puts money in the cops pockets…our health care remains entact," McNesby said.

Nutter declined to discuss whether he was seeking one-year contracts from the other three unions also.