We want to thank the over 300 delegates and guests who made their voices heard at to the 2018 COPE Endorsing Convention!
On Thursday night, the Committee on Political Education of the Florida AFL-CIO unanimously voted to endorse Andrew Gillum for Governor. President of the Florida AFL-CIO, Mike Williams issued the following statement following the vote:
“The over one million union members, retirees, and their families of the Florida AFL-CIO stand united to elect the next Governor of Florida, Andrew Gillum.
For too long Florida’s working people have been left behind by corporate special interests in Tallahassee. We need a Governor that will boldly fight for the issues that affect workers every day.
Raising the minimum wage, making healthcare more affordable for all, investing in our teachers and public education, ensuring the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share in taxes and rolling back the decades long attacks on workers’ rights are the only way we turn around a state economy that has almost half of Florida working families barely making ends meet.
Andrew Gillum understands what workers are going through, and we believe he is the bold leader we need to build a better Florida for all working people. Florida’s union teachers, bus drivers, electrical workers, building trades, hotel workers, and all of the members of our state’s labor movement will be hitting the ground running with a laser-focused member outreach program that will build the grassroots momentum to win in November.”
Following the 5-4 decision reached by SCOTUS on the Janus v. AFSCME case, Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams issued the following statement:
“Florida workers already understand the disastrous implications of the Supreme Court’s Janus v AFSCME decision. In right-to-work states like Florida, workers live this decision everyday through a system that not only undermines their freedom to have a voice on the job, but ensures that our state’s workers continue to be paid less, have less access to healthcare, and less opportunities to retire with dignity.
With this decision, SCOTUS has checked off another box on the wealthy special interest wish list. This ruling will continue our nation’s decades long race to the bottom for workers rights, increase economic inequality, and make it even more difficult for America’s workers to make ends meet.
The Florida AFL-CIO with its over one million union members, retirees, and families, will continue to stand together with Florida’s working people who, even when the decks are stacked against them, will continue to join together in unions and fight for a stronger, fairer America.”
The 2018 Florida AFL-CIO COPE Endorsing Convention convenes Saturday, June 9th. Stay tuned for COPE 18 updates, workshops, and documents by visiting www.flaflcio.org/convention and texting COPE18 to 235246
For Immediate Release: June 7, 2018
Elbert Garcia, New Florida Majority, Elbert@NewFloridaMajority.org or (718) 930-9497
David Fernandez, Florida AFL-CIO, firstname.lastname@example.org or (850) 570-9953
Anna Susman, Berlin-Rosen, email@example.com or (646) 200-5285
As Florida Governor’s and Legislative Races Heat Up, Worker Groups Release Bold Agenda to Bolster Workers’ Pay, Jobs
With economy growing but paychecks flat, groups say next governor must stand with working people or face political peril
With a high-stakes election around the corner, groups representing Florida’s workers — including the Miami Workers Center, the Florida AFL-CIO, New Florida Majority, Organize Florida and the Farmworker Association of Florida, among others — today released a Florida Workers’ Agenda calling on the next governor and the legislature to take bold action to improve jobs, wages, and working conditions for the state’s workers.
While Florida’s economy has been growing under Rick Scott, pay has been flat and living costs have been rising, leaving millions of families just a missed paycheck away from economic crisis. According to the United Way, 45% of Florida households can’t afford basic necessities. Orlando has the lowest median pay of any metropolitan area in the U.S. And in South Florida, poverty-wage jobs and rising housing costs are squeezing families hard.
Weak worker protections are a big part of the problem. Florida’s minimum wage is just $8.25 an hour, and has increased only 90 cents since 2009. And workers who are cheated in their paychecks, injured on the job, or laid off are left stranded. Florida has no state wage enforcement agency. Its unemployment insurance program is the stingiest in the U.S. And its workers comp protections for injured workers have been declared unconstitutionally inadequate by the Florida Supreme Court.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidates are meeting to debate in St. Petersburg on June 9 and in Miramar on June 11. The Republican candidates are debating in Tampa on June 28.
The Florida Workers’ Agenda outlines key reforms that the next governor—or the governor together with the legislature—should take to protect working families. The recommendations include:
- Backing a 2020 ballot initiative to gradually raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour
- Fighting attempts by the legislature to tie the hands of cities and counties from addressing worker needs
- Getting the state back in the business of fighting wage theft by establishing state wage enforcement programs at the Department of Economic Opportunity and attorney general’s office
- Fixing the state’s stingy unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation systems, which no longer provide meaningful safety nets for jobless and injured workers
- Tackling the health and safety threats facing Florida’s workers, especially farmworkers
- Promoting access to jobs for qualified workers with arrest or conviction records by “banning the box” in state hiring
- Defending workers’ right to organize and join unions, and promoting decent pay for public servants like teachers and airport workers
- Protecting immigrant workers
- Fighting for workers’ civil rights and fighting forced arbitration of worker complaints
- Opposing a ballot proposal to require a supermajority vote of the legislature to raise revenue in the future
“All Floridians deserve wages and conditions that reflect the value of their hard work and gives them the financial freedom to achieve their dreams,” said Moné Holder, senior program director for policy, advocacy & research at New Florida Majority (NewFM). “Working class families, especially communities of color that have been systematically kept at the margins, demand fair economic policies and lawmakers who will fight for our basic human rights and support an agenda that protects Florida’s workers.”
“The Florida AFL-CIO supports this worker agenda because it transcends the usual glittering generalities and broad attacks typically seen during elections season. The policies outlined in this agenda provide a framework for Florida’s struggling workers to meaningfully participate in our economy and hold decision makers accountable,” said Rich Templin, director of politics and public policy with the Florida AFL-CIO. Templin continued: “Florida’s workers and our economy deserve an unemployment insurance system that isn’t the worst in the nation, a workers’ compensation system that puts workers and employers over insurance profits, and local governments that are empowered to do what’s needed in their communities without the burdens of legislative preemption. The policy solutions in this agenda are vital for our state’s future and must be a part of the public discourse during this pivotal election season.”
“Workers are on the front lines of serving our communities’ needs every single day. They need to be the priority to ensure a thriving state with healthy families. It’s far past time elected officials stand with women and families and deliver for those making Florida work,” said Debbie Soto, board president, Organize Florida.
“Farmworkers do the essential work of feeding us. They endure sweltering heat, biting insects, exposure to toxic agricultural chemicals, and dangers from accidents with unsafe farm equipment and hazardous workplace conditions, all in order to provide us cheap, affordable food in our grocery stores. For the work they do, they deserve decent, livable wages; strong health and safety protections; and freedom from harassment, abuse, threats and retaliation. Their lives and our food depend upon it,” said Tirso Moreno, general coordinator of the Farmworker Association of Florida.
“As an organization that defends the rights of low-wage and immigrant workers, Community Justice Project is in full support of this important agenda. We know all too well that workers in our communities are dealing with low wages, widespread wage theft, unjust work conditions, and continuous attacks on their right to organize. We need and deserve an economy that works for all of us,” said Oscar Londoño, Skadden Fellow & attorney with the Community Justice Project.
“From wage enforcement to unemployment insurance to workers comp, Florida’s protections for workers are today some of the weakest in all the 50 states,” said Paul Sonn, director of the National Employment Law Project Action Fund. “Florida’s working families deserve a governor who will fight for them by promoting good jobs with fair pay and safe workplaces for the state’s eight million workers.”
The groups releasing the agenda include:
Advocacy Partners Team
Community Justice Project
Farmworker Association of Florida
Florida Immigrant Coalition
Miami Workers Center
National Employment Law Project Action Fund
New Florida Majority
South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice
Heroes! Assemble to watch your highly anticipated 2018 Florida Legislative Session Update finale episode.
Spoiler alert, Rick Scott’s last session as governor was a disaster for working families. Watch as Florida’s workers fight back against corporate tax handouts, and the biggest attack on our teachers, students, and public schools our state has seen in decades. We’d like to thank you for making our update series reach over 200k views this session. Stay tuned for more updates throughout the year right here on our website at www.flaflcio.org
“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world – “No, you move.”” – Captain America
See below for pass/fail overview of the major working family issues we followed during the 2018 Legislative Session. Click here for a downloadable version of the brief.
UPDATE 6:30PM: In a prime example of how HB 7055 was rushed through the process, after passing the Senate earlier this afternoon the Florida House completed the final passage of this bill this evening. The bill now goes to Governor Scott’s desk to be signed into law.
As we have seen over the last week with the teachers strike in West Virginia, there is power in numbers. HB 7055 is another attempt to chip away at that collective power.
The Florida AFL-CIO has and will always fight for the rights of workers to have a voice in their workplace. There’s a reason why corporate special interests and the legislators they own constantly try to undermine unions. That’s because they know that the last line of defense in protecting our most fundamental democratic institutions like public education, workplace safety, and good jobs with fair wages is a united and organized work force.
Today was a sad day in Florida. Today’s vote pours salt in the wound of last year’s HB 7069 battle but we are confident that the people are waking up to this threat to our most cherished institution and are ready to escalate the fight.
Thank you to the thousands that called, emailed, and visited your legislators over the last nine weeks of legislative session. Your voices were heard, but our legislators still voted against public education and our teachers, and for wealthy school privatization interests in our state.
The struggle to protect our schools is far from over and we must increase our collective efforts in the months to come. Stay active, stay focused and stay tuned for updates in the coming days by signing up for legislative alerts on our website at www.flaflcio.org
UPDATE 5:00PM EST: The people of Florida learned a cruel truth today about the Florida Legislature. They learned that the corrupt forces of school privatization are controlling both chambers of the legislature and members of both parties. They also learned that those looking to profit by destroying education will do anything, especially destroying one of the most effective forces against them, our teachers and their unions.
HB 7055 will shift millions, eventually billions of tax payer dollars from traditional public schools to for-profit interests including private schools and charter schools and silence the teachers and their union who stand in opposition. Four brave Republicans, Senators Hukill, Grimsley, Lee and Young, stood up to these forces and stood strong with public education. That would have been enough.
Unfortunately one Democrat stood with school privatization. Senator Bill Montford voted for the bill. If he would have stood with our public schools and honored the principles of their party, this travesty would not have happened.
Since the bill was amended in the Senate, HB 7055 now goes back to the House for final passage before it goes to Governor Scott to be signed into law.
Before the House attempts to pass this bill again, make sure they hear from you. Use Florida Education Association (FEA) online tool to be connected with your local House member NOW!
Heroes! Start off your penultimate legislative update in action by dialing (855) 235-2469 and telling your Senator to vote NO on HB 7055 that is up for a final vote this Monday.
In this update we cover how our villainous Speaker of the Florida House has completely hijacked the legislative process by forcing his hand to push the Senate to pass HB 7001, legislation that would make it almost impossible to close corporate tax loopholes and HB 7055, legislation that would siphon millions of taxpayer dollars to for profit schools and decertify teachers unions.
“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” – Batman
On Monday, March 5th, the massive attack on our states students, teachers, and public schools will be up for a FINAL VOTE in the Florida Senate.
After removing the language from HB 7055 last week, Senators backed by Koch brothers funded corporate special interest organizations like Americans for Prosperity once again added language that would decertify our state’s teacher’s unions to this already terrible education bill.
It’s now or never as this is our last chance to stop this devastating attack on public education in Florida!
(855) 235-2469 and enter your zip code NOW to be connected with or leave a voicemail for your state Senator. Urge them to stand up for our public schools, our students, and our teachers by voting NO on HB 7055.
At nearly 200 pages, this massive bill makes almost 60 changes to Florida’s education laws. Many of these changes will divert hundreds of millions of tax dollars to private, for-profit schools, reduces accountability for student performance, and hurts programs for struggling students.
HB 7055 also creates a process that deceptively claims to help victims of bullying in our schools. Rather than focusing on programs that directly combat the problem of bullying in Florida schools, HB 7055 uses this issue as another means to please their donors and expand the unaccountable for-profit private school industry in our state.
This bill would spell disaster for the future of public education in our state. We need the Florida Senate to say NO to this massive scheme to bully our students, our schools, and our teachers.