In March, more than 300 city of Miami employees working without union representation learned that under a legal settlement, their positions had been moved into the AFSCME 1907 bargaining unit, affording them greater job security and benefits.
But a few weeks later, about half those employees received another notice: While their positions were now union jobs, the workers occupying those positions weren’t necessarily coming along for the ride.
Instead, dozens of employees have learned they will have to reapply and compete for their own jobs. The competition is internal, but has nevertheless infuriated union officials, who say the late May notice “put the city in a panic.”
City Manager Daniel Alfonso says the city’s laws require competition for union jobs, and the workers told to reapply were hired without a recruitment process. He said the city went through the same situation before under a different administration.
“You have to go through a competitive, merit-based process” for union positions, Alfonso said. “The rules are the rules.”
But the internal competition has riled the union, which is now pursuing an “abuse of power” claim against Alfonso. Sean Moy, AFSCME 1907 president, said he suspects Alfonso is retaliating against the union for pushing to represent an additional 321 positions. The positions, which account for about 7 percent of the city’s workforce, include secretaries, assistants, traffic engineers and media specialists.
“These people are already here. The way you’re dealing with them is not correct,” Moy said. “You can’t just make them reapply for their jobs after so many years of service. He’s putting the city in a very difficult position.”
Adding intrigue to the dispute between Alfonso and the union: Sandy Dorsainvil, the former manager of the city’s Little Haiti Cultural Center, was among the employees whose positions were moved under the union’s purview.
Dorsainvil was fired by Alfonso just days later without explanation — a move that caused a backlash in Miami’s Haitian community and nearly cost Alfonso his own job. She now works on Commissioner Keon Hardemon’s staff, but is fighting to regain her old position.
Emails obtained by the Miami Herald show Dorsainvil’s termination came amid a public corruption probe into issues at the center, but didn’t explicitly state if the probe had focused on any of her actions. Attempts to reach Dorsainvil and her attorney, Charles Mays, were not immediately successful.