Home  >  Florida  >  Union no-show jobs cost FL’s largest county millions

Union no-show jobs cost FL’s largest county millions

By   /   September 30, 2013  /   News  /   27 Comments

By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog

TALLAHASSEE — In Florida’s most populous county, union representation comes at a steep price for taxpayers.

ESTEBAN BOVO: The Miami-Dade County Commissioner is trying to eliminate or reduce taxpayer exposure to a questionable union practice.

ESTEBAN BOVO: The Miami-Dade County Commissioner is trying to eliminate or reduce taxpayer exposure to a questionable union practice.

Instead of showing up for work and doing the public-sector jobs they were hired to do, dozens of Miami-Dade County employees are showing up for their unions and representing union members against the county that employs them.

While union members are entitled to representation, having the county pay for it is an expensive practice.

“In essence one could argue that we’ve set aside a position that we pay — not only salary but benefits and all the other items that come along with county employment — and that person basically never does work for us, ever,” County Commissioner Esteban Bovo told Florida Watchdog.

Bovo is trying to end or somehow reduce the custom that he says is costing taxpayers anywhere from $12 to $24 million annually.

Coworkers also are forced to pick up the slack for their missing colleague, and other county budget items are receiving less funding as a result.

“We found there are 44 employees in the county spread out through different departments that fit this criteria,” said Bovo.

The problem, he said, came to his attention when the county property appraiser tried to discipline an employee who wasn’t showing up for work. The county officials was told the employee was a union rep and beyond reprisal.

“The taxpayer expects a level of service from the money they contribute, and they expect every dollar that they pay to go into the delivery of that service, not to pay somebody to do another entity’s job,” said Bovo.

The county administration agreed to the lucrative deal in 2011 during collective bargaining negotiations.

“Not that I don’t believe there should be somebody doing union work, but I believe the unions should be the one’s paying for that work,” said Bovo.

Bovo is challenging the labor contract provision that allows for union stewards to be subsidized by taxpayers.

He successfully led the passage of an ordinance only to have it changed from a direct demand to the mayor into a request that the mayor suspend the provision.

Still, he’s confident Mayor Carlos Gimenez will address the issue during the next round of public-sector union negotiations. But reducing the practice may come by way of concessions from the county in other areas.

“It’s just not fair. The residents that I represent, for the most part, don’t have that kind of representation. They work very hard and pay their taxes and it’s insulting to them to see something like this,” said Bovo.

“You and I can’t get away without doing any work and having somebody else pay,” he said.

Florida Watchdog contacted the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 199, for comment but did not receive a response.

Contact William Patrick at wpatrick@watchdog.org or follow Florida Watchdog on Twitter at @watchdogfla Like Watchdog.org? Click HERE to get breaking news alerts in YOUR state!


William Patrick is Watchdog.org’s Florida reporter. His work has been featured by Fox News, the Drudge Report, and Townhall.com, as well as other national news and opinion websites. He’s also been cited and reposted by numerous state news organizations, including Florida Trend, Sunshine State News and the Miami Herald, and is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Florida Press Association. William’s work has impacted discussions on education, privacy, criminal justice reform, and government and corporate accountability. Prior to joining Watchdog, William worked for the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, Fla. There, he launched a legislative news website covering state economic issues. After leaving New York City in 2010, William worked for the Florida Attorney General’s Office where he assisted state attorneys general in prosecuting Medicaid Fraud. William graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College, City University of New York. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife and three young children.

  • Taxilady88

    Exactly why UNIONS are not good any more….they want to get paid, but they could care less if the job is done. No respect even for tax payers. People used to work and be PROUD of their work and do a good job, but now they get paid whether they do a DECENT job or not. Unions used to be a good thing, but now days they are just lazy criminals!

  • Old Jack

    I am a firm believer in Unions, but, only for the private sector. City, County, State, or Federal employees, have no business being unionised.

  • JcB

    Lazy union dirtbags.

  • ludah

    I’d be looking at the County Administration that approved the 2011 contract! They should ALL be fired for being STUPID!

  • Indymaverick

    Out source all of their jobs. It can be done.

  • Travis Sartele

    Typical union thugary…. Sounds like something I saw on an episode of the Saproanos .

  • Truepatriot

    Even Comrade Roosevelt said public sector unions are a bad idea…and he LOVED him some fascism…

  • DLinz

    This happens ALL over the country, not just in Miami/Dade, and not just in Florida either. It’s a NATIONWIDE practice that NEEDS to stop NOW. Enough union fiefdom bs while we all are getting screwed in the process.

  • indyfan2

    Fascism has nothing to do with unions. Calling Rossevelt comrade and connecting that with fascism is mixing oil & water. They are two completely different things. Try getting informed.

  • mike

    Hes a steward he has other duties , and its in the contract, one the employer sighned . just some more union busting

  • Rutabega22

    The way to find this info is to get the full contract and read it. For instance, a local school teacher’s union contract says they can use the District email to communicate (rather than set up their own account)..

  • Peeledpeas

    I’ve had first hand experience with union thugs getting paid to be worthless. I worked a temp job and the local union thugs demanded that we use their union labor. The slugs they sent didn’t lift a finger to help out with things that needed to get done. The core crew of myself and about four others that work together often ended up doing all the work while the union slugs did nothing all day.

  • GaryLeeT

    Ahhhhh, the taxpayers are the employer, NOT they elected officials. No citizen in their right mind would never sign a contract like that. What really happened is something the unions always expect from the Democratic politicians they help elect, and it called quid pro quo.

  • GaryLeeT

    They are not that far apart in theory, and even less so in practice. I mean, that’s like saying Hitler, and Stalin were polar opposites. That one of them didn’t rule with very heavy oppression, and instigate mass genocide.

  • greyfedora

    I was going to post this a common business practice, that protects both the employer and the worker.
    If an employee is being disciplined, the shop steward makes sure he is being treated fairly. This could potentially save the employer a lot of money if the employee brings suit.

  • greyfedora

    We have the same system in our shop. The union can use the company e-mail to communicate with the members. But we are smart enough to only use it for stuff that the company already knows about, never for plans and strategies, etc.

  • Benito

    Facism is government controlled by big buisness.. see Republicans controlled by Koch brothers

  • fredb

    Thank you to the author for bringing this horrible waste of our money (as a Dade County resident I am directly impacted by this with the higher sales taxes and property taxes in this county). No more contracts should be signed with these workers and they should be at will employees only if they are going to have the privilege of working for us. The union boss leach can find someone else to leach off rather than the workers of this county.

  • liz

    Isn’t Florida a right to work state? You really don’t need the union, do you? I realize they are powerful but “we the people” should be more powerful then they are, abolish them, the dues you have to pay could be used to pay for an attorney if you need one.

  • indyfan2

    Hitler began the Nazi Party partly because of the threat of Communism. That they both killed so many citizens is beside the fact. Few countries treat those they feel are unemportant to growth well. Just look at how our government treated the Native Americans and the Hispanic people when we spread across the continent. We did not treat either well. Then look at how the Negros were treated after emancipation.

  • peteserb

    Perhaps you would be happier living in Russia.

  • ted

    Rutabega22 You are awake. If the county attorney is worth his salt he should be working on that. Also if county can’t afford the hi cost start getting a little part time people. Think about that carefully. I got up at a monthly meeting and said ( what we need is a good union to keep the big basters in line) I was asked if I had anything to say… Fired the next day. I was the Union President at the time. No lawyers would not touch the case. By By. Have a nice day. think about this. How much money will money hungry union want to pay out ?

  • Maria Andropelii

    Private sector unions made the USA. They made the middle class. The middle class is vanishing with the unions, and that is not a coincidence.

  • Maria Andropelii

    You obviously have never hired an attorney.

  • April Black

    I would show up.
    I have been unemployed for 6 months. I would love to show up to any job.
    They should fire them all. Must be nice to be a Union Dolt.

  • Andy Tuzinski

    Which proves the old adage, little pigs get fed, big pigs get slaughtered. Every negotiation is actually a demand for more, more, more. Eventually the trough is empty. Not a single automobile plant is open in New Jersey anymore. Taxes and outmoded and/or inflexible work rules drove manufacturing jobs overseas.

  • Andy Tuzinski