MIAMI (CBS4) – With nearly 100 Miami-Dade police jobs on the line, county administrators and police union representatives wrapped up their first day of haggling over a collective bargaining deal.
Dozens of county cops filled the seats at County Hall as the bargaining session got underway Tuesday morning. By 2 p.m. the meeting ended; they’ll resume their talks on Friday. Chip Iglesias, Chief of Staff to Mayor Carlos Gimenez, said the “contract is a difficult time, but we feel we can come up with some ideas on how to bridge the gap.”
Earlier this month, county Mayor Carlos Gimenez said layoffs would be necessary if a cost-cutting collective bargain deal was not reached. Over the weekend, however, Gimenez backed down on his plan to send out termination notices to 90 police officers on Monday.
Sgt. Bert Gonzalez with the Miami-Dade Police Department had a humble reply to the possible layoffs.
“Me, myself, I have 28 years on, you know, if I lose something now for the sake of keeping our younger officers, I’m OK with that,” said Gonzalez.
Currently on the table, the county is looking for a 21 percent reduction in salary and benefits from police officers.
“Given what fire had gotten, we just want it to be equitable across the board,” Gonzalez said.
The proposed termination of 90 officers would be in addition to slashing 214 vacant positions which would bring the department’s total staff to 4,121 from its current 4,373.
President of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, John Rivera, said the reality of what is happening on the streets of Miami-Dade County should be seriously considered when contemplating lay offs.
“We’re just entering the holiday season and crime is on the rise,” said John Rivera, President of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association. “We need those 90 plus another 390 officers to keep the streets safe.”
Many police officers don’t like that idea especially when firefighters reached an agreement with the county that requires no layoffs with three furlough days and internal restructuring of the department.
After working out a cost-cutting contract with the firefighters, the PBA has hope they can negotiate an acceptable deal.
“Especially in light of the fact that the firefighters secured a contract that they’re taking for ratification to their membership, we’re hoping that maybe that’s a break through their hardline stance,” said Rivera.
The county is looking to achieve $239 million in concessions from its unions to make up for a budget shortfall.