Florida Public Employees
January 17, 2014
By: Elaine De Valle, Ladra – Political Cortadito
Even under the threat of another inevitable veto, Miami-Dade Commissioners voted 8-5 Thursday to restore a 5% contribution for a group health care “trust fund” that county employees have been giving back to the county since 2009 and led to an impasse between the administration and 11 of the county’s labor unions.
They passed Commissioner Barbara Jordan‘s quick motion to restore the 5% — part of 16% in concessions for many if not all employees — starting in the next paycheck and to take the $57 million that move would require for this fiscal year from the trust fund’s established surplus.
The colleagues who supported her — and the county’s 25,000 employees — were Commissioners Bruno Barreiro, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Audrey Edmonson, Jean Monestime, Dennis Moss, Javier Souto and Xavier Suarez.
But union leaders and employees are going to need one of the dissenters on the dais — Commissioners Lynda Bell, Esteban Bovo, Sally Heyman, Rebeca Sosa or Juan Zapata — to change his or her mind to override the certain veto that is coming from Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Gimenez told a Miami Herald reporter that she didn’t even have to ask him what he would do.
“The Mayor believes the Commissioners who voted in favor of returning the 5% acted irresponsibly because they are also asking the Mayor to go into the County’s reserves to cover the shortfall,” said Gimenez spokeswoman Suzy Trutie. “The implication of using reserves to cover recurring costs will only create a bigger budget gap next fiscal year.”
Everybody saw it coming.
Sosa told TV reporters after the meeting ended abruptly and arguably early around 2 p.m. that she expected to be back in commission chambers on the matter in 10 days. On the dais earlier, she jokingly asked the county attorney “Do I have to chair the meeting?”
It was, by then, an old joke repeated often Thursday. PBA President John Rivera asked if it was Groundhog Day in reference to the movie where characters keep living the same day over and over again. Commissioner Diaz said he felt like it was an exercise in futility. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” Diaz said.
And even though the county attorney assured him that there could be a completely different outcome this time, everyone pretty much expects the veto. The mayor has 10 days to do it. But how much do you wanna bet it comes Friday night? At 8 o’clock?
Still, even when, er, I mean even if (read: when) Gimenez vetoes the 5% restoration of workers’ pay — which he has disingenuously called a pay raise on Spanish-language radio — and when, if, the commission fails to override, it’s pretty likely that the employees will get their paycheck made whole anyway. Two commissioners floated the idea of returning the concession in two parts — 3% now and another 2% in the summertime. One of those is Heyman, one of the five naysayers.
“It looks like it’s going that way because of the way the conversation drifted,” said Terry Murphy, who works for several of the unions.
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