The final bill memorializing a settlement between the City of New Orleans and its firefighters was approved by state Senate Friday afternoon.
Negotiations over House Bill 58 had held up passage of the four-bill package throughout most of the legislative session. The Senate voted 36-0 in favor of the legislation.
Three of the measures were approved Thursday and are on their way to the governor. Because of amendments added on the floor of the Senate, HB58 must return to the House for concurrence before the Legislature adjourns on Monday at 6 p.m.
The legislation represents the settlement of a dispute between successive mayors and city firefighters over back pay and pension support that has been going on for nearly 40 years.
At issue in HB58 were about 60 firefighters. Everyone agreed that new hires could not participate in two extra-retirement programs called DROP and PLOP.
Union officials argued that the 60 retirees who were in DROP should still be allowed to take PLOP, if they chose. The city said no.
In the end, the Senate basically backed the city’s position.
Common in government retirement systems, the Deferred Retirement Option Plan allows employees near the end of their careers to start receiving monthly pension checks while they are still working and collecting paychecks. For New Orleans firefighters, DROP can last five years.
Prior to January, when the deal between the union and the city took effect, firefighters could also take advantage of the Partial Lump-Sum Option Payment Account. PLOP allows a firefighter on his last day of work to choose a lump-sum payment taken from his retirement account.
The agreement restricted firefighters from taking both DROP and PLOP.