Miami Dade County hands out 300 pink slips www.privateofficer.com
The number of layoffs, stretching across all departments from the library to water and sewer to the jail, is expected to rise to about 350 by the end of the week. The cuts are likely to spiral even higher in coming months if the county and its 10 labors unions don’t reach new concessionary labor contracts in coming weeks.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez, elected on a pledge to rein in spending, has warned employees and unions that the county will have to lay off substantially more workers if the new labor agreements aren’t in place by Nov. 1. Gimenez has said the tough stance is necessary to ensure the county stays within budget.
In September, the Miami-Dade Commission approved a new $6.14 billion budget proposed by Gimenez that reversed an unpopular property tax rate hike pushed through a year earlier. That cut the county’s revenue, triggering the plan to pare staffing.
The layoffs come as bitter medicine for Gimenez, who has also placed a high priority on spurring economic development and fostering job creation in the county, where unemployment is 12.2 percent.
“Every day that passes [without a contract], the more layoffs will be incurred,’’ said Greg Blackman, president of the Government Supervisors Association of Florida OPEIU Local 100, which represents some 4,800 supervisory and professional employees in two bargaining units. “We had layoffs today and we expect many more to be coming in November and December.’’
Blackman said he expects the county to declare an impasse very soon, because GSAF members last Thursday rejected two tentative agreements recommended by the union leadership. “The reason we recommended the contract was to avoid more layoffs,’’ he said.
If the negotiations hit an impasse, the parties can either agree to go before a special magistrate or bypass that step and go directly before the County Commission, which has final say on labor contracts.
The county has proposed an 8 percent pay cuts for workers, but has allowed various unions to craft their own proposals for achieving cost savings. GSAF had presented a plan calling for employees to, among other things, give back their recent 3 percent raises and to take 11 furlough days in lieu of outright pay cuts.
The pink slips, which typically take effect in 21 days, don’t necessarily mean county employees will be left without a job.
Most county workers can seek to fill vacant positions that are funded in the new budget and can exercise classified service rights to bump other workers from positions. That process creates a rippling effect.
Those who don’t have the ability to bump another worker through their “retention scores,’’ which are based on seniority and performance, can go into the county’s so-called pipeline assistance process and compete for various spots.