Heated Protest: Miami Police, Unions Plan Rally at NBA Home Opener

Unions to protest at the Heat opener

While the eyes of the world will be on the new-look Miami Heat during their home opener Friday, some gazes might shift focus to the hundreds of people protesting outside the AmericanAirlines Arena.

The city's unions have planned to upstage LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh by staging a protest rally in front of the arena to get attention for what they see is a failing city government.

Union reps are upset at budget cuts that will see most employees who are fortunate enough to keep their jobs, lose benefits and salary. The Police Union has taken the lead in mutiny, already suing the city for its budget moves.

In September, the City Commission voted to eliminate 1,300 jobs, including some cops and firefighters. Employees also suffered deep cuts to pay and their pension, things usually protected in union contracts.

The city said it had to break union contracts to solve its $110 million budget shortfall for this year. For months, the city has been on the verge of going bankrupt until taking the drastic measures.

But it looks like LeBron's arrival was just what the unions needed to take this local spat with city officials to a national stage.

The Heat's opener against the Orlando Magic will be televised nationally on ESPN, and will also be seen around the world as eager basketball fans get a look at the new Big Three.

The unions' plans also throws a wrench in the city's efforts to throw a big party for the opener.

Friday was supposed to be a chance to showcase what Miami is all about.

Unfortunately, lately the real face of the city is financial strife and disgruntled employees.

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