Miami first responders demand city pay millions in back pay following 2010 financial crisis

First responders say they're willing to negotiate payments

By Madeleine Wright - Reporter

MIAMI - The Miami police and firefighter unions are demanding the city pay millions of dollars in back pay after the city slashed first responders' pay and retirement benefits during the 2010 financial crisis.

"Our members have waited many years for justice. The same is true for our brothers and sisters in the fire department," Miami Fraternal Order of Police President Edward Lugo said.

In a joint news conference Monday, the union presidents claimed victory following a recent decision by the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission, and they also called out Miami mayor Tomás Regalado.

"PERC has ruled that Regalado's administration must repay the police and fire (departments) over $200 million in just back pay and $150 million in retirement benefits," Lugo said.  

The union presidents admit it may not be in the best interest for the city to pay the staggering $350 million.

They claim they're willing to negotiate, but that the mayor is not.

"I think he's waiting for his term to end. I think he's trying to pass the buck to the next administration. I don't think he wants to deal with this," Lugo said. 

"He ridiculed us on TV, radio, newspapers -- constantly saying that we were a whole bunch of overpaid people. You know what? When emergencies happen, who does he count on? On us," said Freddy Delgado, president of the Miami Firefighters and Paramedics IAFF Local 587.

City officials released a statement Monday, saying they are still reviewing the PERC decision.

"The administration believes the actions taken in 2010 were necessary to prevent a financial meltdown of the city of Miami.  We don't agree with the Fraternal Order of Police's statement, and we will continue to explore all legal options," the statement said. 

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