HIALEAH (CBS4) – It is the first week of unemployment for 14 Hialeah firefighters.
As of October 1st, 35 positions were eliminated from the department.READ MORE: South Florida Playing Pivotal Role In Transformation Of Psychedelics As Mainstream Medicine
Along with 14 firefighters, 9 firefighters in training were let go, and 12 vacant positions will not be filled. With 2 more rounds of layoffs scheduled – for a total of 105 over the next six months, both the mayor and Firefighter’s Union are blaming each other – and politics – for the cuts.
Mayor Carlos Hernandez held a news conference Wednesday morning accusing the fire union and it’s president Mario Pico of continuing to play a political game.
Pico countered, “This is absolutely crazy. This man (Mayor Hernandez) is playing political games.”
The mayor says he wants the union to come to the table and said if theUnionwould start by giving up holiday pay, he could bring the 14 firefighters back.
“I would love to have those firefighters back tomorrow but the reality is that we need the union to come sit down negotiate at least get those holiday days back so we can continue these negotiations,” the Mayor said.READ MORE: Parkland parents furious following Texas elementary school shooting: ‘They failed our kids again’
He added giving up holiday pay would only be a “temporary solution” and negotiations would have to continue.
Pico says the union already gave the mayor a counter-offer last week and it’s up to the Mayor to make a decision.
“We ready to make whatever sacrifices we have to make for citizens and for the city we’re not going to make them for political careers that’s not what we’re about, “ Pico added,
He wants the city’s finances audited before the Union makes concessions.
“Let’s get to the bottom of what the truth is,” said Pico.
Tuesday, advanced life saving equipment was removed from some Hialeah fire engines. It was returned a couple hours later. The mayor called the removal an “administrative mistake” and said the equipment, “will continue to be there as long as possible,”
But the union says the systems are part of the budget cuts.MORE NEWS: Environmental advocates who say Biscayne Bay is dying to gather Wednesday to find solutions
The union says there is no way the fire department will be able to maintain the same level of service with forty percent of its force gone.