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Sheriff announces layoffs and the unions say .... nothing

A few weeks have passed since Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti sent layoff notices to 177 workers who will be out of a job by the end of July.

But two of the biggest unions at BSO, the Police Benevolent Association and the National Federation of Public and Private Employees, have been eerily quiet. A few dozen union members showed up to listen at a county budget workshop, but many didn't want to talk to reporters. Since then, union officials haven't picketed or taken other public action to protest the cuts.

Why not?

PBA president Patrick Hanrahan and Federation president Dan Reynolds couldn't be reached this week. But it could be that PBA officials are being careful to avoid criticizing Lamberti who approved contract raises up to 12 percent last year in exchange for the union's campaign endorsement. Or it could be that union officials think residents, many of whom have faced their own job losses, won't be sympathetic to protests. Or perhaps union officials don't believe the layoffs will actually happen.

Lamberti will learn in July if he will receive tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to restore more than half of the positions. Also, county commissioners could decide to raise the tax rate or dip into reserves to reduce budget cuts, which could prevent some layoffs.