Florida AFL-CIO Endorses Andrew Gillum for Governor

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.”

Florida AFL-CIO Statement on SCOTUS Janus v. AFSCME Decision

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.”

RELEASE: An Agenda for Florida’s Workers

For Immediate Release: June 7, 2018
Contacts:

Elbert Garcia, New Florida Majority, Elbert@NewFloridaMajority.org or (718) 930-9497

David Fernandez, Florida AFL-CIO, dfernandez@flaflcio.org or (850) 570-9953

Anna Susman, Berlin-Rosen, anna.susman@berlinrosen.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 AFL-CIO

Florida Immigrant Coalition

Miami Workers Center

National Employment Law Project Action Fund

New Florida Majority

Organize Florida

South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice

We Count

Florida House Passes Union-Busting HB 25

In response to the Florida House voting in favor of union-busting HB 25, President of the Florida AFL-CIO, Mike Williams, issued the following statement:

“No worker in Florida asked for this terrible bill, but House leadership still decided it was good public policy to fast-track stripping our teachers, transit workers, nurses, and other public servants from having a voice on the job.

Working people who voiced their bipartisan disgust to union-busting in our state can no longer trust the Florida House to protect their rights in the workplace.

If the thousands of phone calls, packed committee meetings, and face to face office visits from outraged constituents didn’t send a strong enough message to the special interest lawmakers who supported this bill, the response from workers at the ballot box this November certainly will.”

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.”

Response to Charlottesville Domestic Terrorism

In response the events in Charlottesville and President Donald Trump’s responses, Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams had the following remarks:

“The Florida AFL-CIO condemns the disgusting display of hatred and bigotry our nation saw by neo-nazi and white supremacist groups in Charlottesville this past weekend.

It is an absolute disgrace that taking a resolute stance against white supremacy would be so difficult for our President.

For Florida’s labor movement, there is no mincing of words or shifting of blame. Our message is clear, there is no place for this type of hatred in our nation.

We stand with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s decision to leave the Manufacturing Advisory Council in the wake of President Trump’s continued attempt to draw a moral equivalency between those who hate and those who show the courage to fight back against it.

Labor’s history has proven again and again that the way to defeat the forces of bigotry are by exercising our freedom to stand united in our workplaces and speak up in our communities. The Florida AFL-CIO is dedicated to build on that legacy, and will continue to fight for a better future for all Americans.”