Mike Williams - President
Mike Williams came to organized labor with very little knowledge or experience of the union movement but his involvement started when he became a construction electrician trained in a registered apprenticeship. For Mike, holding a union card made all the difference in the world. The card meant having dignity and respect on the job, a living wage, healthcare and retirement benefits, and education and training opportunities. Mike learned early on in his career that for far too many middleclass families, these work place rights remain elusive as they struggle to pay the rent, put food on the table or seek medical attention.
“I worked many temporary jobs in the service and construction industries living paycheck to paycheck. Becoming a member of the union meant finally having my hard work pay off by creating an opportunity for achieving personal goals and being able to provide for my family the way I wanted to. And it meant having the opportunity to achieve the America dream, a dream that so many want to take away today.”
This led Mike, after working his trade for 15 years, to become the Business Manager of his Local, IBEW 177, based in Jacksonville. Eight years later, Mike went on to serve as President of the Florida Building Trades Council, building it into a powerful voice for construction trades statewide.
However, it was not until his trip to Colombia with the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center that he became passionate about helping all working families. During his trip, he witnessed the abuses a government could inflict on its own people and the dangers of having a government that does not respect workers but only see them as a means to an end. He saw violence and hatred directed at those who were just trying to organize for better living conditions and to make a better life for their families. This trip solidified within him his commitment to Florida’s working families.
In 2009, Mike was elected President of the Florida AFL-CIO. During his term, he has revitalized the vision of labor to represent all workers and fostered new alliances with community, immigrant and faith based groups. He refocused the organization on its core values and strengthened its political influence through grassroots activism and mobilizations. Thanks to his leadership, the Florida AFL-CIO has become the central organization, building a coalition of labor organizations and non-labor allies to become an effective legislative advocate and political voice for issues affecting all working families of the sunshine state!