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.

🚨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.