Following the Pensacola City Council’s unanimous approval of agreements between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 71, Mayor Ashton Hayward and police union president Erik Goss took a few moments to publicly announce the end of negotiations.
“We’re glad that it’s over with and we can get back to the business of protecting the citizens of Pensacola,” Goss said.
The city has been negotiating with the police union for nearly a year. Hayward listed finding solutions to the city’s ballooning pension costs when running for office, and said he considered today’s agreement a victory in that regard.
“Today, I have delivered on that pledge to our citizens,” Hayward said. “—closing the pensions will stop the bleeding.”
In addition to other changes, the city’s agreement with the police union ensures that new hires go into the Florida Retirement System. It’s a move that’s expected to reduce the city’s $100 million unfunded pension liability by $7 to $10 million.
In exchange, police receive one-time payments between $2,000 and $2,500. They will also see incremental raises over three years.
The city’s negotiations with the police union have been tense at times. Unable to reach an agreement—and with the relationship growing seemingly more bitter—the city and union were heading to impasse until recently.
“We met in the middle,” Hayward said. “There were many challenges, emotions run higher when you’re negotiating.”
Both the mayor and Goss seemed pleased to reach an agreement before heading into the holidays and a new year.