The major conflict in Jacksonville politics right now: negotiations between Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and the heads of various public sector unions.
Curry wants to move the unions beyond defined benefit “dinosaur” plans, offering raises for current workers, assurances that their plans won’t change, and bonuses for the current employees.
The unions are reluctant to move toward the 401K model Curry advocates for future workers, saying there will be recruitment and retention issues.
Curry hopes to have this negotiation wrapped up in time for the next budget year. And Americans for Prosperity is trying to help, via a website that seems to misunderstand the issue being a matter of collective bargaining with seven different bargaining units.
The website says it’s “time to fix Jacksonville” and its “broken pension system,” and includes a call to action: a form email that can be sent to elected politicians in the city.
The text exhorts site visitors to let Curry “know you appreciate him working to fix Jacksonville’s pension system problems,” and to let “the city council know that they should stand with Mayor Curry and get to work fixing the broken pension system.”
“Your city council works for you,” reads the AFP webpage, “not for Unions or special interests that are trying to keep Jacksonville broke.”
AFP-Florida state director Chris Hudson says his group is putting a full-court press on Jacksonville residents.
“Our grassroots teams have been going door to door and phone banking to educate Jacksonville’s residents about the looming financial crisis. Our goal is to have thousands of face-to-face conversations across the city to encourage citizens to take action and call on their city officials to address the $2.85 billion debt brought on by the broken pension system,” Hudson asserts.
“Mayor Curry’s efforts to reform Jacksonville’s broken pension system should be commended. While we disagree with the tactic of allowing a sales tax increase to persist, we also believe that the city should be finding ways to cut spending and live within its means. Mayor Curry’s plan is a step in the right direction to give the residents of Jacksonville relief from these financial strains,” continued Hudson.
Will these efforts help with collective bargaining? That remains to be seen.
One union leader has already contacted FloridaPolitics.com with an email linking to the AFP site and the subject header: “Koch Brothers Money!”