- Faith & Family
Miami-Dade’s police union has ratified a new contract that will save the county $56 million dollars. At least 200 new jobs were saved but not without officers agreeing to sizable cuts in incentive pay and overtime, as well as the reduction of revenue-generating perk. According to the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, about 3,500 members voted — more than half of the union’s approximate 6,000 members. County commissioners voted on Tuesday to accept the new contract. County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he realized early on that concessions would have to be made but was and remains confident that the commission would “do the right thing.”
“I have always said I was willing to listen to unions and to negotiate so we could find ways to save but each contract is different,” he said. “They have nuances indicative of different work rules, realities and their existing contracts. Some unions will give up some things — others will give up other things.”
Gimenez emphasized that the county has a balanced budget, refuting reports by local media that said Miami-Dade County was facing a $239 million dollar hole.
“We have a balanced budget and will obtain it one way or another, “ he said. “If the commission decides at the end that they don’t want to impose certain concessions, they we will have to layoff people. We are not the federal government. At the end of the year we must have a balanced budget and there cannot be any looming deficits. Either we do that through more concessions or layoffs. When the millage was lowered, a vote by our commissioners of 12-1, the community was told that we would have to make up that money through concessions. We knew it would take some time for the process to be resolved.”
Gimenez said he hopes to get all union contracts signed soon.
“I want to get this over with and put it behind us,” he said. “That’s in everyone’s best interest.”
Gimenez added that according to his staff’s projections, the county budget should be good for the next two years and that he has no plans to go back to unions next year seeking more cuts. But County Commissioner Barbara Jordan (District One) said she fears that cuts will make things even more difficult for lower- and middle-income employees.
“Employees will be forced to pay additional costs for healthcare and take reductions in pay — things that will make it harder for those already living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “Is this desirable? Absolutely not! Is it necessary? Maybe. Do I agree with it? No!
By D. Kevin McNeir