2018 Legislative Update: Week 1

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Heroes! Watch our first update for the 2018 Florida Legislative Session.

In this episode, we cover how the Florida House is rushing through legislation that attacks workers rights, silences local governments, denies benefits to injured Florida workers, and splits apart our local communities, all while ensuring corporate tax giveaways stay permanent.

Key legislation discussed this week:

Supermajority Vote to Close Loopholes, Exemptions, Raise Revenue (TABOR)

SB 1742 Stargel / HB 7001 by Leek  – OPPOSE

This could be the biggest threat to working families this session.  This bill proposes an amendment to Florida’s Constitution requiring a supermajority vote in both chambers to raise revenues, close current tax exemptions and eliminate corporate tax loopholes.  Florida’s revenue picture is grim right now and state services are suffering across the board.  This proposed constitutional amendment would lock us in at these low levels in perpetuity.  This is another form of the disastrous Tax Payer Bill of Rights (TABOR) public policy that we have fought and defeated in the past.

Federal Immigration Enforcement

SB 308 by Bean / HB 9 by Metz – OPPOSE

This bill is attempting to obstruct the power and authority of local governments to protect the civil rights of their communities; would force local governments and officials to cooperate with federal immigration authorities at a level that is not mandated or funded by the federal government; would authorize the Attorney General to sue local governments and officials who do not comply, and would fine localities up to $5,000 per day for not enforcing the policies.  This isn’t just an attack on immigrant communities, this is another attack on local control, what that could have negative impacts on local budgets and public sector workers everywhere.

Workers’ Compensation                                                                                                                              

HB 7009 by Burgess – OPPOSE

In 2003, citing rising insurance premiums, the legislature radically altered Florida’s workers’ comp system. They slashed benefits for workers, capped attorney’s fees so injured workers couldn’t access the courts, cut retraining programs and many other negative changes impacting workers.  The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that some aspects of the law are unconstitutional (i.e. caps on fees) so the Legislature has to revisit the law.  In addition to protecting access to the courts, we will be pushing for:

  • The ability for injured workers to use the doctor of their choice
  • A reinstatement of training benefits
  • An increase in benefits for workers deemed to have a “permanent total disability” and other changes.

This bill does not address these issues at all and in fact, further diminishes the ability for injured workers to access the courts.  HB 7009 is almost identical to last year’s House bill that we vigorously fought and eventually defeated.  So far the Senate has not offered a comprehensive workers’ comp bill.

🚨LEG ALERT: Stop Union Busting HB 25

The Florida House is ready to vote on HB 25, the union busting bill that threatens to wipe out Florida public unions and silence the voices of our states teachers, nurses, bus drivers, and many other public servants from negotiating for fair wages and working conditions.

House leadership rammed HB 25 through the early committee process with little to no public input. Now they are racing to bring this terrible bill up for a vote as early as this week.

The time to let our state representatives know that workers stand strongly opposed to this toxic anti-union bill is NOW. Call (855) 235-2469 and enter your zip code NOW to be connected with your local state representative.

Too many families across Florida are already living paycheck to paycheck, yet Tallahassee politicians want to try and dismantle their union and make things worse for all of us.

HB 25, would silence our neighbors by taking away their voice through collective bargaining and strip them of their right to choose if they want to be in a union or not.

This bill is unnecessary because in Florida it’s already unlawful to force anyone to join a union. Anyone who uses that excuse to hurt our community is lying.

Make no mistake, this bill is just an attempt by billionaire CEO backed politicians to make it harder for our public servants to come together to advocate for their on the job needs and negotiate to protect their paychecks.

Call (855) 235-2469 to be connected with your state representative NOW. Leave them with the message that you reject this clear assault on workers’ rights and urge them to vote NO on HB 25.

Unions Ready to Defend Workers, Families in FL Legislature

This story was written and recorded by Trimmel Gomes of the Public News Service – FL. Click here to visit their page and hear an audio version of the story. 

January 2, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s Republican lawmakers have resurrected, and say they plan to fast-track, legislation from last year to weaken most labor unions in the state.

Rich Templin, legislative and political director of the Florida AFL-CIO, which represents more than 500 labor union locals, says it’s “almost deja vu” as his team prepares to play defense on behalf of workers in the 2018 legislative session.

As an example, he says House Bill 25 would automatically decertify some unions if more than 50 percent of the workers they represent don’t pay dues to the organization.

“That would make it almost impossible for public sector unions to exist, by placing new barriers and hurdles on their ability to represent their workers and collectively bargain on behalf of all workers,” Templin points out.

Similar to last year, Templin predicts the legislation will clear the House, but its future in the Senate is uncertain.

This 60-day lawmaking session starts next Tuesday.

Republican Rep. Scott Plakon says House Bill 25 is about transparency, but Templin says the bill disrupts labor organizations without concern to the industries that the workers represent, including nurses, housekeepers and teachers.

“Legislative leaders, especially in the House, are determined to continue privatizing Florida’s education system, so we’ll be fighting on that,” Templin points out.

Workers on the front lines of some of the most dangerous jobs, such as firefighting and law enforcement, are eligible for what is known as special risk retirement, which includes early retirement.

Templin says another union goal is to get that benefit extended to 911 dispatchers and health care workers in forensic hospitals.

“So, providing care for very dangerous patients who have been committed, either civilly or through the criminal justice system, he explains. “So, we’re looking to give them the opportunity to have special risk retirement. ”

Florida’s once-every-20-year Constitution Revision Commission is also on Templin’s radar, because of a proposal requiring a two-thirds supermajority vote in both legislative chambers before raising taxes or fees or creating new ones.

He argues the state should have the flexibility to fund critical programs as needed.

Florida AFL-CIO Reelects Top Officers at 2017 Convention in Orlando

Orlando – Today, delegates to the Florida AFL-CIO 2017 Biennial Convention unanimously reelected Mike Williams, (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – IBEW) as President and Andrew Spar, (Florida Education Association – FEA) as Secretary-Treasurer of the state federation.

The Florida AFL-CIO represents over 500 local unions, 10 councils, and over one million union members, retirees, and their families in the state. Mike Williams, an electrician and Jacksonville native, will begin his third term as President, first elected in 2009.

“I am honored that my union sisters and brothers have given me the opportunity to serve as President for another term,” said Williams. “The Florida AFL-CIO will continue to do what we do best, elevate the voices and shared values of the working people in our great state. Together, we will continue to build on what has become the largest and most successful legislative and electoral programs for organized labor in the South.”

Volusia United Educators President and music educator, Andrew Spar will now serve his first full term as Secretary-Treasurer of the state federation.

“Florida’s union members understand the new heights we have reached as a federation, and the immense work that is yet to be done,” said Spar. “I am thrilled to take on these challenges and ready to deliver meaningful change for all working people in Florida.”

2017 Florida AFL-CIO Biennal Convention

Join us for the Florida AFL-CIO Biennial Convention December 16th and 17th in Orlando!

Click on this link or visit flaflcio.org/convention to visit our official convention page and download all the tools and materials you need for this year.

Post pictures and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter by adding #FLunion to your posts.

🚨LEG ALERT: Stop Union Busting HB 25

Tomorrow, Tuesday, December 5th, state representatives on the Government Accountability Committee will vote on HB 25, the union busting bill that would eliminate Florida public unions in a workplace if an arbitrary number of workers, set by the politicians, do not voluntarily pay dues.
 
This is the same legislation that workers packed committee meetings against last session to voice their strong opposition. Now House leaders are trying to ram through this damaging bill AGAIN, with little to no public input.
 
Too many families across Florida are already living paycheck to paycheck, yet Tallahassee politicians want to try and dismantle their union and make things worse for all of us.
 
Legislation requiring the payment of union dues by over fifty-percent of a bargaining unit or the forced decertification of that union is unfair, unnecessary, and a waste of taxpayer dollars. It’s unlawful to force anyone to join a union, and Florida already has the processes in place for workers to remove a negotiating body from their workplace.
 
Make no mistake, this bill is just an attempt by billionaire CEO backed politicians to make it harder for nurses, teachers, bus drivers and other public servants to come together to advocate for their on the job needs and negotiate to protect their paychecks.
 
Call (855) 235-2469 to be connected with a state representative on the Government Accountability Committee. Leave them with the message that you reject this clear assault on workers’ rights and urge them to vote NO on HB 25.

Say NO to massive tax breaks for the wealthy.

The GOP tax scam is a disaster for working people, and Congress plans to vote on the bill this week. We need to take action now to stop this attempt to pass huge tax breaks for major corporations, Wall Street, and the richest 1%.

Call (844) 899-9913 to be connected with your local member of congress and urge them to vote against this horrible bill.

GOP lawmakers claim that tax breaks for the wealthy will stimulate job growth. But study after study has shown that this trickle down approach to jobs doesn’t work, and further threatens to strip away funding for critical services.

In reality, this bill is a job killer that provides huge incentives for companies that outsource good-paying American jobs. As many as 40 million working families will actually see their taxes increase, while 45% of benefits in the bill will go directly to individuals making more than $500,000.

Cuts to essential programs like Medicare and Medicaid mean that the eligibility age for Medicare will raise to 67 — putting retirees at risk. The bill even allows corporations to deduct payments for their lawyers to fight unions, but removes a provision allowing union members to deduct their own dues.

Eliminating the deductions for natural disasters and high out-of-pocket medical expenses would especially hurt Floridians. As the state with one of the highest rates of uninsured residents and an increasing yearly threat of dangerous hurricanes, Florida’s already struggling families would face a greater chance of financial ruin if this bad bill passes.

Working people fighting back is what stopped Trumpcare, and we can do it again. Take action now by calling (844) 899-9913. Tell your local member of congress to stand with workers and reject this tax scheme that further lines the pockets of our nation’s rich and powerful.

Join the Working Families Lobby Corps

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As interim committee weeks begin for the 2018 Legislative Session, it’s that time of year again to dedicate the time to take action for working families in Tallahassee.

The Working Families Lobby Corps is now entering it’s 8th year of holding our elected officials accountable all session long with the voices of union members from across the state.

Click here to learn more about our WFLC program and how you and your union can make a difference in the legislative process this year.

Florida Unions Answer Call for Hurricane Relief

What does it mean to be union? It means standing together with family, co-workers and community, especially when they need it the most. Union members across the state exemplified that definition with relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Irma over the past two weeks. In the wake of Irma, Florida AFL-CIO created the Florida Workers Relief Fund, a program to help provide relief for union members, their families and community partners. Funds raised statewide have been going directly to union members who are still struggling to get back on their feet in areas that were hardest hit.

Read the full story at Fight for Florida. 

Florida Workers Relief Fund

As millions of our fellow Floridians continue the immediate work of digging out after Hurricane Irma by dealing with the loss of electricity, needing food, water and basic necessities, the Florida AFL-CIO is working to help provide assistance for both the short and long term for the victims of this terrible storm.

The Florida AFL-CIO has established the Florida Workers Relief Fund in order to provide direct support to union members, community allies, their families, and neighbors. The funds we raise will be used to help purchase the essential items and services desperately needed by working families impacted by Hurricane Irma across the state.

Each dollar we raise will go directly to families in need, with no overhead or administrative costs. The Florida AFL-CIO is tapping our greatest resource, our members, to create a network of workers across the state who are identifying those in need and providing them the support necessary so that they can get back on their feet.

This is an excellent opportunity for your generosity to make a real difference, supporting a program of workers helping workers to help make our communities whole.

Thank you for your support.