HIALEAH (CBS4) – Fourteen recently laid off firefighters received good news as they showed up to turn in their equipment at the Hialeah Fire headquarters Thursday afternoon; their jobs are safe, for now.
On October 1st, 35 positions were eliminated from the department, but the firefighters received late word Thursday that Mayor Carlos Hernandez and the fire union reached a deal to save the positions.READ MORE: Be Prepared: Florida's Hurricane Sales Tax Holiday Begins Saturday
The jobs were saved thanks to concessions made by the union. Firefighters will now have to give up two days of holiday pay. The union is concerned, however, that the deal will only hold until November 30th, when the holiday pay deal expires.
“It’s a win for the citizens only. Firefighters are the ones that are paying for this,” said Mario Pico, president of the union.
Both sides are still in negotiations for what to do after the deal expires.
Mayor Hernandez released this statement shortly after the tentative deal was reached:
“Today, the Hialeah Fire Union has made the necessary concessions, as they have agreed to give up holiday pay for 2 days in the calendar year. These concessions will allow the City to reinstate the 14 fire fighters who were separated from their jobs on October 1st, 2011, as well as the 9 presently in the Fire Academy. Today’s actions demonstrate that when two parties negotiate in good faith, a compromise can be achieved for the betterment of our community. I trust this is the beginning of fair and honest negotiations on behalf of the Hialeah Fire Union.”
What wasn’t saved was the 12 vacant positions left in the department.READ MORE: Condo Reform Measure Introduced During Florida Special Session On Property Insurance
The temporary agreement ended the contentious negotiations between the union and Hernandez, with each side accusing the other of playing political games.
Meanwhile, as the layoff were averted in Hialeah, those at The Broward Fire Academy who are about to enter the job market are seeing a field that’s very much not on fire.
Graduates Crystal Haire and Bill Dwyer practiced tying knots they can tie in their sleep. They are about to graduate as fully-trained firefighters, and Dwyer said he spent approximately $15,000 but does not have a job as yet. Neither has Haire or any of the other 36 classmates. Haire admitted to having something of a knot in her gut.
“I do (have a knot), but I think in any profession that I would be in right now I would probably feel that way,” she said.
They said they know that times are tough all over. If they get a firefighter’s job they’ll probably have to settle for less pay and fewer benefits, and cutbacks like the one in Hialeah will make the job search all the more difficult for a rookie.
“Certain cities have laid off many people,” Haire said. “These people have experience and I’m going to be competing with them.”
They said they hope that the cutbacks will not last long.MORE NEWS: Broward Dive Rescue Teams Come Together To Investigate, Recover Sunken Vehicles From Deerfield Beach Lake
“I think a lot of it is just the recession and everything going on today,” Dwyer said.