Miami-Dade Seeks to Slash Workers' Salaries

Thursday, 18 Aug 2011 01:56 PM

By Andra Varin

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The mayor of Florida’s Miami-Dade County wants to chop public employees’ base pay in order to reduce spending — and the unions aren’t happy.
 
Mayor Carlos Gimenez originally proposed that county workers pay a 10 percent pre-tax contribution to their health insurance, but the county’s benefits adviser said that might violate federal tax law, The Miami Herald reported Thursday.
 
So the mayor came up with Plan B: Slash public workers’ base salaries by 8 percent.
 
Combined with previously announced salary cuts, that would cut base pay for county workers between 11 percent and 21 percent, the paper said.
 
 “These decisions are difficult to make,” Gimenez told the Herald, “but given the tough economic times that our residents have been facing, I must call on our public servants to make a shared sacrifice as well."
 
Unions are likely to oppose the plan because pension benefits and overtime, as well as payouts for accumulated vacation and sick time, are calculated from workers’ base pay.
 
“My preference, of course, is none of the above,” Greg Blackman, president of the Government Supervisor Association of Florida Local 100, told the Herald. “If we have to do something, I would prefer doing something with benefits or even a furlough. But not a salary reduction, that’s something that would cause a long-term hardship.”
 
The new proposal would reduce police officers’ base pay by 21 percent, and the union is upset.
 
“My official statement is, I can’t tell you a statement because it would be too vulgar,” police union president John Rivera told the Herald.

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