Miami Herald, May 17, 2011

In its first meeting, Jackson Health System's new governing board signaled Monday that it plans tough talks with its unions by hiring negotiators that a labor leader called "union busters." CEO Carlos Migoya recommended the board spend up to $275,000 in a no-bid contract for Allen, Norton & Blue, a Coral Gables law firm that Migoya wants to lead the negotiations with Jackson's four labor unions, whose contracts expire Sept. 30. The board unanimously approved the request. Migoya said the firm did a great job for him last year when he was Miami city manager. With the city facing a $105 million deficit, he used a little-known state law to reduce union pensions by about $80 million—a move the unions are still fighting in court. "Having a professional doing [the negotiations] keeps out the conflict of interest of having employees negotiate a contract that they could benefit from," Migoya told the new seven-member Financial Recovery Board. "Unions have very good legal talent. If we don't have similar professionals," Jackson executives would be at a disadvantage. Jackson's union leaders said this was the first time the system had hired outside negotiators.
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