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City agrees to contracts with unions

BY CORIANNE EGAN cegan@paducahsun.com

Negotiations with two of Paducah's largest unions have gone so well that new contracts have already been tentatively agreed on, weeks after negotiations started.

City Manager Jeff Pederson announced Tuesday that the city had tentative agreements with both the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 168 and the Fraternal Order of Police. Because the city had both contracts up for renewal at the same time, it was originally thought the process could take longer and be more tumultuous.

"Both unions and the city were very constructive during the negotiations," Pederson told the Paducah City Commission on Tuesday night. "They were very open and frank, and fairly harmonious."

Barry Carter, who headed the IAFF bargaining group, said the union will release the details of its agreement after a vote, which is scheduled for Feb. 13. The group was looking for cost of living increases and changes to the workers compensation agreements, as well as changes to the life insurance benefits offered to them.

Carter noted he was floored that it took the two parties only two meetings to come to a tentative agreement.

"Saying I was happy would be an understatement," Carter said. "The last contract took us five meetings. The contract before that took us 14 months to work out. Both parties came to the table and did things right this time. We were all honest, and straight forward. I couldn't have scripted it better."

Like the IAFF, the FOP and head negotiator Anthony Copeland declined to discuss specifics of the new deal until it was ratified by the FOP's membership. Copeland said that process should be done by the end of the week.

"Both parties came together quickly, and everything went well at the table," Copeland said.

Pederson said Tuesday night the commission could see the contracts as early as its Feb. 18 meeting.

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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