Miami-Dade Mayor vetoes commission's action on contract dispute

Miami-Dade County moves further from compromise with unions

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter
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As promised, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos A. Giménez vetoed the commission's decision to restore employees pay Friday.

In his veto message, the former firefighter called the commission's compromise with the unions as "financially irresponsible" because it would deplete the workers' health insurance fund.

County employees have paid 5 percent toward their health insurance for the last three years.

Read: Veto Message

Gimenez added that restoring about 25,000 workers' pay would mean $56 million in pay raises and dozens of layoffs. And even more worrisome, he said, was that about $27 million would come from tax-supported funds.

During the contract dispute, which has come before the commission numerous times, unions have alleged that the mayor's veto is illegal. 

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

The 8-5 vote would have funded the $56 million hole with reserve dollars. 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?"

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