Sheriff John Rutherford
FOP President Nelson Cuba
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The head of the local police union has filed legal action against Sheriff John Rutherford, saying the sheriff has intimidated officers into taking pay cuts, but the sheriff does not see it that way.
Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba said today he filed the action with the State of Florida Public Employees Relations Commission because Rutherford undermined the system by going to officers directly, rather than through the union.
Cuba said Rutherford directly reached hundreds of officers by attending mandatory roll call meetings Thursday and urging them to take a 2 percent pay cut to help balance the city's budget.
Instead, Cuba said, Rutherford is supposed to go through the Fraternal Order of Police to make a case to rank and file officers.
Rutherford disagrees. In a statement released this afternoon, JSO said the following:
Sheriff Rutherford does not believe his discussion of the budget crisis and proposed salary reduction, during his routine roll call address to the troops, constitutes an unfair labor practice, as alleged by the police union president.
The pay cut Rutherford is advocating is a suggestion put forth earlier this week that would retroactively decrease officers' pay from 2009 and 2010.
Rutherford told the officers if they do not agree to the cut, they will face layoffs or consequences that would be much worse, according to Cuba, who has lobbied against the cut this week.
Today, Cuba pointed out that Rutherford as recently as six months ago told the officers they did not need the pay cut, and Cuba said other city agencies, specifically JEA and JTA, have not had to deal with a similar pay cut.
Cuba said he wants to go line-by-line through the JSO budget to find cuts. He offered Human Resources and IT departments as examples, saying JSO doesn't need them since they are a city agency and should be able to use the city's departments, but he does not have the line-by-line budget, which he said he has requested from both the sheriff and the mayor's office.
JSO has not yet responded to the suit and has not responded to a request for a comment from First Coast News.
Cuba also said today he has approached several members of the city council, telling them he will file suit against the city if $4.4 million that was cut by the council this week from JSO's budget is not restored.
First Coast News