Just weeks after the Palm Beach County Commission failed last month, in a 3-3 tie, to approve a collective bargaining agreement with improved pay and benefits for lifeguards, a new round of bargaining is at an impasse.
The sticking point is the same one on which the lifeguards and the county have deadlocked for years: “special risk.”
The sweeping agreement, reached in November and ratified by lifeguards, would have provided several employee benefits changes that lifeguards have sought for years. The county would have agreed to approve all applications by lifeguards to the state for “special risk” status, which would nearly double the amount of their Florida Retirement System pensions and would allow them to retire earlier. Lifeguards have for years tried to get the county to grant them the status.
Union president Rick Poulette declared the impasse in a Feb. 2 letter to the county, saying the county had said it was “special risk” that is the sticking point.
“As you are aware, this is the main issue that brought us to the bargaining table in the first place and now brings us to the impasse stage that we are currently in,” Poulette wrote.
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