Mayor plans to veto restored 5 percent pay

Commissioners vote to restore 5 percent to county unions

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter, Ben Candea

MIAMI - Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Thursday he'll again veto restoring 5 percent of pay to employees of nine county unions after commissioners passed it for a second time.

Workers sent bags of flip flops with "traitor" and "double crosser" written on them to commissioners ahead of the vote.

"What do you do in September when they tell you there's a big hole everywhere for the libraries, the animal services -- for every department," said Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa.

The employees have paid the 5 percent toward their health insurance for the last three years. Restoring their pay would cost the county $56 million.

"They will never help us out again because they cannot believe that we're going to keep our word," said Commissioner Barbara Jordan.

"I don't care how many times people say 'promise' -- they can say it 10,000 times -- it doesn't make it true," said Gimenez.

The 8-5 vote funded the $56 million hole with reserve dollars.

"This one is about using reserves, which is even worse than the last time," said Gimenez.

Using reserves could affect the county's bond rating, which was recently lowered to negative, costing it millions in debt payments.

The unions declined to take the dollars back in increments over time.

"It's how they prioritize that money. That's what it boils down to," said Dade County Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera.

"Any world-class city, you pay for what you get," said Clarence Washington, president of Local 291, a transit workers union. "If you don't pay for it, what are you going to get?"

"We've got to figure out a way to undo this impasse," said Commissioner Xavier Suarez.

Gimenez has 10 days to veto.

The flip flops will be donated to county homeless programs.

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