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Florida County Manager Praises Unions


March 22, 2010

Miami Dade

In a troubled national economy, municipalities are often faced with difficult choices as tax revenues drop, making balancing budgets more difficult.

Across the nation, these pressures have led to antagonistic negotiations between managers and public sector unions. In many cases, public workers have been made scapegoats for problems that they did not create.

But in Miami-Dade County, Fla., eight out of 10 unions representing public workers have reached accommodations with the county that reduce spending without overburdening bargaining unit members with extreme wage or benefit cuts.

In a Feb. 16 Miami-Herald editorial, George M. Burgess, Miami-Dade county manager, praises the unions. He says:

Too often, we are quick to vilify public servants. In a government whose employees are driving ambulances, feeding senior citizens and patching potholes, some people cling to the image of county workers pushing bureaucratic paper across cubicle walls…In fact, Miami-Dade County has fewer employees per resident than we have had for at least 15 years.  We are proud to work for the residents of the world’s finest community, and I am honored to be counted among Miami-Dade’s employees.

Brian Rappaport, treasurer of Miami Local 349, a journeyman inside wireman, is one of many card-carrying IBEW members who work for Miami-Dade County.  Rappaport, who was a member

of AFSCME and OPEIU before being reclassified as a manager in the water and sewer department, credits both sides with working together to avoid layoffs.

Wage reductions have been cushioned by a county agreement to put an amount equivalent to the labor cost savings toward employee medical benefits. And wage increases for bargaining unit members are provided in future years.


Photo used under a Creative Commons license from allaboutgeorge