NEW FOR THURSDAY: Union Deals Reached Between Ocean City, Employees; Details Unclear Until Ratification

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OCEAN CITY — While all sides report tentative employee contract agreements are in place, union officials as well as Ocean City representatives were mum this week on the specifics.

Negotiations over union contracts between the city and the Ocean City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 10 and the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 4269 have been ongoing and last week deals were reportedly reached. However, before any details can be shared, memberships of the respective unions must okay the contracts and attorneys need to sign off.

It’s not officially known whether the contract includes pay raises for the police officers and the firefighter/paramedics, but sources have confirmed salary increases are included. All city employees have gone four years since their last pay raise, although a flat bonus was extended last year.

A sticking point in the negotiations reportedly came about when the talks turned to the desire of some to return to the town’s former pension system for new hires. That system was changed in 2011, and union representatives have expressed concern that the new system, a defined contribution plan rather than the former defined benefit option, is unattractive to prospective employees. How those discussions were ironed out was not discussed this week, as officials from all sides want to wait till the deals become official.

On the IAFF Local 4269’s Facebook page last Thursday, a post confirmed negotiations had wrapped between its executive board and the city. The post read, “After three days of contract negotiations, including a twelve hour marathon session today, the Career Firefighter Paramedics Association Local #4269 has reached an agreement with the Town of Ocean City.”

IAFF Local 4269 President Michael Maykrantz said currently attorneys are finalizing a draft of the agreement, which will then be ratified by membership. Maykrantz said he will withhold specific comments until that process, which could take two weeks, is completed.

Joseph Bushnell, state trustee for the FOP Lodge 10, confirmed Thursday the city and the lodge have an agreement in place. He said a meeting was planned for Wednesday for membership to vote on it, but it had to be been rescheduled.

“I can confirm we have a tentative agreement, though,” Bushnell said.

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said Wednesday, “the negotiations went well.” He added, “They were lengthy. They were intense at times, but we were able to work together and come to tentative agreements. It’s now before them for approval. Once we receive approval, it will be put in ordinance form and terms and conditions will be released.”

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