JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- After three years of negotiations, Jacksonville City Council voted to blockpay raises to five JEA unions at their Feb. 14 meeting.

"I'm very disappointed. I'm going to be filing an unfair labor practice in the morning," said Rodney Wickham, Union President.

Wickham said they're ready to fight for the contract City Council voted down Monday.

"This is a business. We're losing employees to other company's because the pay is better," he said.

"This was the most austere contract that we've ever negotiated with any of our employees and not to get it approved is very disappointing," said CEO Jim Dickenson.

Dickenson gave a lengthy presentation to City Council outlining why JEA employees deserved pay raises.


The contract would have givenone and a half tothree percent increase over the past three years.

Employees make anywhere from $25,000 to $300,000.

"In this case we have management. We have unions. We have a board that's all in agreement in bringing something to the legislative body, that didn't get approved. That's pretty harsh for employees bargaining in good faith," he said.

But his arguments didn't sway city council members who voted 13 tofive to block the raises.

A number of council members said this just isn't the right time to give pay increases.

"I'm extremely impressed with the utility and the management of JEA, so it has nothing to do with trying to punish your employees. But it's about maintaining a consistency as we go forward," said Councilman Robin Lumb.

Both firefighter and police unions had no increase in their contracts ratified by city council, and they actually took a 3% pay cut to get the deal done.

"It's an even bigger deal when we don't give city workers pay raises, but you actually cut their pay," said Lumb.