Bureau Of National Affairs
Monday, December 9, 1996
Sanitation Workers Withdraw Concessions; Cite Miami's Failure To Raise Revenues
TAMPA, Fla.--The union representing Miami sanitation workers has advised city officials it was “withdrawing” a ratified package of wage concessions negotiated last month to help the city deal with its ongoing fiscal crisis.
In a Nov. 25 letter to the city, attorneys for the Laborers International Union of North America said the union made the decision to rescind the agreement because city officials were not taking sufficient steps to raise revenues as called for in the terms outlined in a memorandum of understanding between the city and union.
LIUNA also charged the city planned to “privatize” the sanitation department, a move the union said would lead to layoffs and pay cuts.
“It has become clear that the city commission refuses to take necessary steps to increase the city's revenue, and, furthermore, now plans to give away all solid waste jobs through the privatization of that department,” attorney Donald D. Slesnick said in a letter to the city.
“The Solid Waste Department is a long-time employer and wage provider for many minority workers. The history of privatization is a litany of lost jobs and reduced wages.”
R. Sue Weller, Miami's labor relations officer, told BNA the city planned to oppose LIUNA on the matter, arguing that once ratified it could not be withdrawn unilaterally.
“The sanitation worker's union apparently is not willing to honor the concessions even though they ratified it,” she said.
Last month, members of LIUNA Local 800 approved an agreement in which the sanitation workers agreed to forego a $500 cash bonus and limit workers' compensation supplemental pay. The action would save the city--plagued by a $68 million budget deficit--an estimated $233,000 (221 DLR A-2, 11/15/96).
Also agreeing to givebacks were workers represented by two other locals, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and the International Association of Firefighters.
For its part, the city agreed to take a number of steps to increase revenues. Officials also said the concessions would allow the city to avoid layoffs.
“We're anticipating that as a result of the [agreements] those things would not have to be addressed,” Weller told BNA.
The concession strategy also was setback when some 1,000 rank-and-file members of the city's fourth union, the Fraternal Order of Police, rejected a package that would have delayed pay raises and set benefit limits.
Those concession were designed to save the city $15 million over the coming two fiscal years, union and city officials told BNA.
Weller said the success of future negotiations on the crisis--especially with police and LIUNA--could hinge on a vote by the city commission Dec. 12 on whether to raise sanitation rates.
Weller said it would be unlikely FOP members would even hold another ratification vote if commissioners fail to raise rates.
Copyright © 1996 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., Washington D.C.