Hallandale Beach Union Contract Update

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

May 20, 2021

In my last article, I mentioned our Police Contract but wanted to go more into to detail and touch on a recent incident that took place at our last election.

In my last article, I mentioned our Police Contract but wanted to go more into to detail and touch on a recent incident that took place at our last election, in my opinion, it was a petty complaint that adversely effected one of our officers.

Since 2018, our City has been negotiating with our Police Union, to settle their contract. Obviously, our Police Department has been going through many issues. The number one issue has been under staffing, a reduction in training and the resigning of our SWAT Team. Frankly, the number one job of our commission, in my opinion, is public safety and over the past years, the ball was dropped when it came to this vital service.

A tentative agreement was reached in March that is moving through the process of drafting an ordinance for adopting the contract and ratification. The Union has already voted yes, however, the negotiations took so long, that we had to approve 2 contracts. Once ratified, the 2018-2020 contract and then, the 2020- 2023 contract will give some stability to both police operations and to our City budget.

The 2018-2020 contract remained as status quo with a focus on changes to 2020-2023 contract. As a note, the City by statute, can only approve three years at a time. The highlights of the changes to benefits include: The retro Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 2.5%, 3% COLA for 2021 and 3% COLA for 2022. There will also be a $100 shift differential, changes to sick leave payout and sick leave buy back.

The City will discontinue contributions to the Retirement Healthcare Savings (RHS) and will now make 1% contributions to a voluntary 401K match. The other changes will help with retention and with long-term pension issues. There was an increase in the CAP to $110,000 dollars for both pension Tiers. We did add a DROP to Tier II employees. Deferred retirement, is where employees can go into retirement but, they can still work. This move is cost neutral as long as the pension makes money, the drop member will only receive the pension gains from 0% to 6%. In the past, the return was guaranteed at 6%, no matter what the ROI was on the pension fund. Members entering the DROP, will be able to elect to receive a cash contribution to a non-pension tax deferred account for unused vacation days with a cap of 336 hours.
There is always a give and take in negotiations, so, members will see an increase to their contribution rate from 9.5% t0 11.5%, beginning in 2022 and this will reduce City costs. We also have a commitment, that the Pension Board cannot make any changes nor decisions that increase City or member contributions. They did this in the past, which created a lawsuit between the City and the Board.

The approval of a contract is a step in the right direction. Our Police Officers and IUPA Union President, Peter Occasion came out loud and clear this past election and showed their frustrations. In a bold move, they supported Dmitry Yakobovich, a resident and successful President of The Beach Club. They worked very hard to unseat incumbent, Commissioner Michele Lazarow. Commissioner Lazarow was a vocal supporter of the defunding and transfer of resources out of the department for social services. The commissioner retained her seat in a very heated and often visceral race between herself and 4 other candidates. I am bringing up the past due to a recent issue of the Sun Sentinel.

During the race, verbal attacks came out on both sides. As a note, campaigning off duty officers, should have the right to speak their peace. Which, even the commissioner agreed. They really unnerved her, to the point that she filed a complaint over a comment from the President who used to be a good friend. Apparently, in the last race, she was supported by them and when she won, she gave him a friendly kiss. He joked with her that he “guessed he was not going to get a kiss this time.”

I bring this up, because in my opinion, this was retaliatory and filed under the guise of “Me Too.” You cannot have it both ways, kissing someone one day and then complaining about a joking comment of kissing, the next day. I am disappointed that the complaint was even moved forward. Many of us, including myself had to deal with negative campaigning. She simply did not like how heated, it became. Ironically, she is part of the group that has introduced this level of negative campaigning to our community, she was even part of a PAC that attacked me, during the campaign, as well.

We can only guess, as to who reported this information to the Sun Sentinel, but the person's identity, is still unknown. Sadly, not only was it in the paper, but it is also in an unblemished record of a dedicated and passionate officer. I went on record at our meeting about how wrong this was to interfere with the life and livelihood of one of our officers over a petty complaint that I am sure to be attacked, by standing up for common sense.

As always, I am available anytime for your questions, concerns and ideas to make our City, a better place. I am available by phone/text at: (954) 632-5700. You can e-mail me at: jcooper@cohb.org. Please visit my Facebook at: MayorJoyCooper. Like It! Friend It! Share!