Contract Kick-Off Empowers Members to Take Charge

On Saturday, June 14, Local 199 union members from across Miami-Dade met at a contract kick-off meeting to discuss strategy for the upcoming contract negotiations with the County.

At the meeting, Local 199 Administrator Andy Madtes presented an in-depth summary of the County's proposals for the upcoming contract, which includes a 10% base cut in salaries; the removal of your grievance process; a way around notifying the union about outsourcing; removing your union's ability to appeal disciplinary through arbitration; and the elimination of premium pay.

As Madtes made clear, the County is facing a multibillion dollar deficit created by politicians who are more concerned with politics than making the right choices for Miami-Dade. "This is a budget by design," said Madtes. "But we're not going to sit back and let the County balance the budget our backs."

Taking ownership of the union and growing Local 199's membership became a consistent theme during the meeting as several brothers and sisters stepped forward to address the union hall with their vision for Local 199. Drexwill Ferguson, an AC Mechanic at the Miami-Dade Seaport delivered a message of empowerment and solidarity saying, "We all stand together. Everybody in this room needs to look in the mirror and say 'are we strong enough?' people in this room can make a change right now. Look to yourself."

Tiffany Weldon, a police records Technician said "Unionizing our young people is essential to fortifying our organization because we are our future. It is important to let our young people know that we have a voice and we have rights and it is never too early to let our voices be heard."

Moving forward, Local 199 has several important challenges that need to be met, and our members must step up and be leaders to become the driving force behind our success.