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Time Tickin' On Deal Between Hialeah & Firefighters Union

HIALEAH (CBSMiami) – Time is running out for the City of Hialeah and its fire union to come to some sort of terms for the next budget year. If they can't, jobs will be on the line.

On Wednesday, city negotiators met with union officials for another collective bargaining session. The city is looking for approximately $4 million to $6 million in concessions from the union.   The session wrapped up at 1 p.m.

For Hialeah firefighter Lenny Dominguez, his love for his job is second only to his love for his 11-month-old daughter, Sofia.

But Sofia was top of mind when he found out he is one of 105 firefighters slated to be laid off by next March if a deal is not approved.

"You realize, 'my God, how am i going to feed her? How am i going to pay for electricity?' Times are tough," he told CBS4's Natalia Zea.

If firefighters approve the agreement, they will be forced to take 7 days off without pay over the next two fiscal years, accept a 5-percent pay cut, and lose nearly all their paid holidays until the end of 2013.

The only exceptions would be President's Day, Independence Day and Christmas Day of 2012.

Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez said in light of the new proposal, he is holding off on the 70 layoffs planned for December 1st.

"If they agree to this we're not laying anybody off....I don't want to lay off anybody. But we need concessions from the Union," Mayor Hernandez told Zea.

"You realize, my God, how am i going to feed her? How am i going to pay for electricity? Times are tough," he told CBS4's Natalia Zea.

The firefighters will vote on the new agreement December 21st. If they approve it the City Council will vote on the 22nd.

If the deal does not go through the firefighters could be facing layoffs three days before Christmas.

Something that doesn't sit well with Dominguez.

"It's cold, it's a horrible time. There's no good time to be laid off but right during the Holidays would be demoralizing."

Though Dominguez is thankful the new deal could save his job, the proposed paycuts are still hard to accept.

"I don't want to sound selfish but I made more money 10 years ago working at Home Depot."

But Dominguez says as long as he and the other firefighters are employed, they will do his best for the people of Hialeah.

"We'll keep on doing our jobs, that's what we do."

The union has already held several budget workshops on the matter to try and come up with the right combination of pay cuts and furlough days. So far, there has not been talk of cutting pensions.

The city's new budget included layoffs of up to 40 percent of the fire department. The first round of layoffs took place Oct. 1, when 14 firefighters and nine trainees were laid off and 12 vacant positions were eliminated.

The jobs were saved, however, when the firefighters union agreed to give up time-and-a-half pay for the next two holidays, Columbus Day and Veteran's Day, which will save the city about $230,000.

12 vacant positions were not saved in the deal.


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