The PBA turns up the heat
The Florida Police Benevolent Association has had a strong track record with the Legislature, whether it's better pension benefits for PBA members or cost-of-living pay increases. But these are not normal times, and the budget headed for final-stage conference negotiations calls for huge cuts in both probation officers and correctional officers -- cuts the union says will jeopardize public safety.
Literally out in the cold, more than 200 members rallied in the chill outside the Capitol Tuesday, and were joined by Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil, who urged the union members to "turn up the heat" on lawmakers. Legislators usually elbow each other for camera position at PBA rallies, but not this year: Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa (left) was the only lawmaker who showed up at the PBA's event.
McNeil's troubles with the Legislature go beyond probation officers and prison guards: He's fighting an attempt by lawmakers to reduce or eliminate money for drug and alcohol abuse treatment for prison inmates.
"If they (legislators) forget us, I promise, we will forget them," the PBA's John Rivera told the crowd of uniformed officers. Adding to the PBA's anger is that for the second straight year they stand to get no pay increase, but legislators found $110-million to set aside to expand a private prison, long the bane of the union.