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Miami-Dade County negotiates contract with PBA

County proposed 3-year contract for 6,500 union members with no raises until year 3

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – After a nearly seven month delay to get talks moving with Miami-Dade County's largest law enforcement union, the county and the Police Benevolent Association sat down Friday for contract negotiations.

"We are not playing games because we don't consider this a game," said Miami-Dade PBA president John Rivera. "This is very serious for us, as it is for you all."

It was at times contentious and even contemptuous, but Miami-Dade County and its PBA finally sat down at the negotiating table for contract talks. Negotiations were previously delayed because the PBA objected to the County's lead negotiator Tyrone Williams, who was once the negotiator for the PBA.

The union cited a conflict of interest but the stalemate with Mayor Carlos Gimenez lasted nearly seven months, becoming acrimonious. On Friday, the County laid out some of its proposal, including a new three-year contract for the union's 6,500 members with no raises until year three.

Also, the county says it needs to redesign the union's healthcare benefits or dependent premiums will go up 10 percent. But perhaps the biggest problem for both sides is the time line. The contract would be retroactive to Oct. First and open enrollment for the union's benefits begins October 27. Still, both sides are just talking and have not agreed on much. Now talks are on the fast track to get a deal done.

"Basically today was, for all practical purposes, the first time we were able to meet," said Miami Dade County HR director Arlene Cuellar. "As you saw, we didn't have any proposals from the PBA. We are optimistic we will be able to review their proposals."

"I think this is a positive step," added Rivera. "Just the tone that we were talking. I think there is a solution."

After the meeting the two sides were checking their calendars, looking for an open date to have more talks on a new contract. Meanwhile, the union will continue to work under the old contract.

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