On Monday afternoon, FloridaPolitics.com caught up with Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and got his thoughts on an issue of key importance to the rank and file.
Specifically, the pension negotiations currently underway between the city of Jacksonville and the Fraternal Order of Police.
Sheriff Williams and Mayor Lenny Curry have messaged symbiotically on public safety concerns; however, with the city’s position being that defined contribution plans are viable for new hires (a stance the police union rejects), Williams’ take was of interest.
“No matter the vehicle, no matter how we get there, there’s got to be a fair benefit and pay package that they get together on,” Williams said.
“Hopefully,” the sheriff added, “negotiations will continue and they’ll come up with something that will work.”
When asked about the union position — that if benefits fall behind the rest of the departments in the state, then retention and recruitment will suffer — Williams had this to say.
“I will say this: that’s my concern really,” Williams said, before reiterating his take.
“As long as it’s a competitive pay and benefit package, I’m not sure the vehicle matters. But again, I’m going to leave the negotiations up to them. and I’m confident they’ll come up with something that will work,” Williams said.
Thus far, Williams has stayed above the fray in what is shaping up to be a classic Labor Vs. Management clash between the fourth floor of City Hall and the Fraternal Order of Police.
With even the Florida Times-Union editorializing that the Florida Retirement System is the best option for new hires, it will be interesting to see how his position might evolve should collective bargaining become more fractious between the police union and the Jacksonville mayor.