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Revolving door in state prisons: Teamsters oust PBA as union for correctional officers

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Teamsters have ousted the Florida Police Benevolent Association as the union representing state correctional officers, ending almost four decades of dominance by the PBA.

In balloting for a bargaining unit, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters drew 4,097 votes to 3,015 for the PBA. The International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) was supported by 116 officers and another 154 called for no union, according to results made public Thursday by the state’s Public Employees Relations Commission.

The Teamsters union ran a intense campaign for the past six months. They raised questions among officers about the PBA’s representation at a time when pay freezes and legislative efforts to close prisons and privatize others in South Florida heightened anxiety among the state’s 20,000 correctional officers.

“I think the officers showed in this election that in tough times, they want a tough union to represent them,” said Leigh Strope, a Teamsters’ spokeswoman.

Judge orders Scott admin to ‘cease and desist’ prison privatization bidding

Saturday, November 5th, 2011 by Dara Kam

A Tallahassee judge has ordered Gov. Rick Scott‘s administration to “cease and desist” the bidding process for a prison privatization plan she earlier ruled was unconstitional.

Tallahassee Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford late Friday night put the brakes on Department of Corrections officials’ attempt to bypass her earlier decision that the way lawmakers ordered the privatization of the 18-county region in the southern portion of the start violated the state constitution.

In her order, Fulford pointed out that corrections officials reneged on a pledge made Thursday not to move forward with the bidding before a Nov. 16 hearing. Later the same day, the department announced it was reopening the procurement and bids would be accepted after Nov. 10, Fulford wrote.

Fulford ruled on Sept. 30 that lawmakers should not have included the privatization plan in the must-pass state budget but instead should have ordered it in a stand-alone bill.

Scott opted not to appeal, but Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a last-minute appeal late Monday on behalf of state lawmakers, setting the stage for Friday’s court showdown.

In granting the emergency stay to the Florida Police Benevolent Association, Fulford wrote that “defendants are not likely to succeed on the merits on appeal.”


Pension work nears finish line

Friday, April 29th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Plans to dramatically revamp Florida pensions at the state and city levels appeared headed Friday toward the finish line — far short of where Gov. Rick Scott and lawmakers had initially proposed.

House and Senate negotiators have settled on extracting 3 percent paycheck contributions from 655,000 teachers, police, firefighters and other government employees enrolled in the Florida Retirement System, part of an effort to pull $1.1 billion into the state’s recession-strapped budget.

But a plan to scrap the state’s Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) has been abandoned,  House and Senate negotiators agreed. The House had wanted to bar the lucrative early retirement program to new enrollees in July; the Senate in 2016.

But what emerged Friday night from House lead negotiator Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, was a proposal to reduce the 6.5 percent interest rate paid on DROP benefits to 1.3 percent. The move will save $81 million, if agreed to by Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Wellington, the Senate’s lead negotiator on the Florida Retirement System.

Among other changes nearing agreement are a plan to increase the retirement age for new enrollees in the FRS from age 62 to 65.  An existing 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment would be eliminated for service earned after July 1, with Workman saying the goal being that it would be reinstated in 2016.

That change save $404.8 million, analysts said.

Meanwhile, plans to revamp municipal pensions also have been scaled-back. (more…)

36,000-member Florida PBA endorses Aronberg for attorney general in Dem primary

Friday, June 11th, 2010 by George Bennett



State Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, picked up the endorsement of the 36,000-member Florida Police Benevolent Association for his Democratic primary against state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach.

Aronberg also snagged the Dem primary endorsement of the state Fraternal Order of Police last fall.

The PBA also endorsed Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp in the Republican primary for attorney general.

In addition to its attorney general primary endorsements, the PBA issued three endorsements for the general election: Democrats Alex Sink for governor and Loranne Ausley for chief financial officer and Republican Adam Putnam for commissioner of agriculture.

Police union poll tests Brandenburg for West Palm Beach mayor; she says she’s not running

Friday, May 14th, 2010 by George Bennett

Brandenburg: 'I'm running for the county commission'

Brandenburg: 'I'm running for the county commission'

A telephone poll conducted by the Police Benevolent Association this week asks respondents about declared 2011 West Palm Beach mayoral candidates Jeri Muoio and Molly Douglas and undeclared-but-considering-it candidate Kimberly Mitchell.

There’s also a favorable/unfavorable question about former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, who’s name has been floated as a potential mayoral candidate.

But the survey questions that have tongues wagging concern term-limited state Rep. Mary Brandenburg, a former city commissioner who’s running for Palm Beach County commission this year and says she’s not interested in a mayoral campaign.


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