After a full day of contentious impasse hearings, the commission voted 8-4 to stop taking the 5% from the Solid Waste workers as of Jan. 1. Voting for were Commissioners Barreiro, Heyman, Jordan, Moss, Suarez, Monestime, Bell, Edmonson (feel free to thank them). Against were Bovo, Souto, Zapata, Sosa. Pepe Diaz was absent.
This win sets the bar for all other county unions, but the fight is far from over as each will have to negotiate individually. SEIU Local 1991 is still at the bargaining table at Jackson. Jackson management has said that they will follow the lead of the county in regards to returning the 5%.
But we will need your help to remind them of that. It is also possible that the Mayor could veto the Commission’s decision, which would then require a 2/3 majority to overturn and another fight at the commission.
Make no mistake, today represents a big victory. Active members who called commissioners, signed petitions and sat through hours of hearings should be proud of the critical role we all played in getting this win.
Mayor Gimenez fought hard to convince his allies that to stop taking the 5% would be bad for the budget.
The unions battled back, offering testimony from workers about the impact to their families of not being able to take home their entire paycheck as well as expert testimony demonstrating that the county does have the money to do the right thing.
SEIU Local 1991 president Martha Baker, RN, told commissioners that Jackson employees have given so much over the last few years. As she spoke, members held up petitions signed by thousands of Jackson employees asking for the 5%.
“The sick and injured don’t stop coming to our doors just because there are fewer of us, taking care of more patients for less compensation,” she said. “We sacrificed. We gutted it out, knowing there would be a light at the end of tunnel. Then the Mayor drops this bomb on us – ‘Oh by the way, we’re not going to stop reaching into your pocket.'”
“This is an issue of keeping your promise,” argued Bishop Victor T. Curry, a community leader who showed up to speak in support of county employees. “You made a deal with the workers: They would give up something to help the county in a time of need. At a certain point that sacrifice would end.”
Today, we see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The fight continues.