2022 Florida AFL-CIO Convention Highlights

The Florida AFL-CIO hosted our Committee on Political Education and Biennial Convention at the Hilton Buena Vista Palace in the Orlando area from June 23rd to June 26th. Throughout the convention, members from every corner of the Sunshine State met in solidarity, elected leadership, endorsed candidates, and planned for the future of Florida’s Labor Movement.

We’ve put a video together of some of the highlights and speakers of the convention, which you can watch here.

Multiple elected officials and candidates spoke and joined us at the convention. The Florida AFL-CIO endorsed pro-labor candidates for the 2022 Elections, including Representative Charlie Crist for Governor and Representative Val Demings for the U.S. Senate. You can find all of our endorsements here.

We were also joined by AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and AFT President Randi Weingarten, you can watch the live stream of President Shuler’s address here and President Weingarten’s address here.

Labor leaders were also elected at the convention, including the reelection of Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams and Florida AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Dan Reynolds. Congratulations and solidarity to all who were sworn in.

Saturday, June 25th, union members and labor leaders gathered for our Labor Hall of Fame Gala to honor members who have gone above and beyond in service for Florida’s working families. A huge congratulations and thank you to this year’s winners: Sister Elsie Marie Allen of the North Central Florida Central Labor Council, Brother Preston Drummond of Teamsters Joint Council 79, Brother Larry Kidd of IBEW 606, Brother Claudino “Tito” Rosario of UNITE HERE 362!, and Sister Lynne Webb of AFT 3600.

Thank you to all of the union members and staff who helped us accomplish such a great convention. The future is bright for Florida’s labor movement!

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive: May 14th

Join the National Association of Letter Carriers, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association, United Food and Commercial Workers, the AFL-CIO and other national partners in giving back to our communities as part of the 30th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Postal workers across the nation will pick up thousands of food nationwide for food banks during the food drive. You can help give back by leaving a sturdy bag of nonperishable food next to your mail box on May 14th, and a postal worker will pick it up. It’s that easy, and will help support food security in our communities.

Florida AFL-CIO Special Session Update

Last month, the Florida Legislature jammed through legislation that would eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the taxing and governing entity for the Walt Disney World property. While the special session was supposed to focus on redistricting, legislation targeting the district and the Walt Disney Company was introduced the morning of session with no forewarning.

The legislation was filed as revenge for the private company’s decision to speak out against the Governor’s “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” While there are issues with Reedy Creek that should be examined and some changes could be made, this was a rushed proposal that simply wipes out the district, threatening thousands of union jobs and could lead to radical increases in property taxes for residents of Orange and Osceola counties.

With only a few hours’ notice, the Florida AFL-CIO was the ONLY organization that was able to quickly mobilize, educate legislators as to the perils of this move, and speak out against this attack on the workers of Central Florida in time.

For more information on the story and a look at the debate over the bill, check out our Special Session update. You can watch it here, as well as on our Facebook and YouTube pages.

Workers Memorial Day 2022

April 28th is Workers Memorial Day, a day where we honor those who have lost their lives on the job and those affected by work place injuries and illnesses. Working people across the United States and Florida are spending the day honoring those we have lost and committing to the fight for workplace safety. Below is a a look at how members of the Florida AFL-CIO observed Workers Memorial Day.

Message from Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams

Every year, thousands of workers lose their life on the job, and scores more die from long-term injuries and illnesses contracted at their workplaces. This year, and every year, America’s Labor Movement honors and remembers the working people that we have lost as part of Workers Memorial Day. On this day, working people and union members across the nation spend the day in solemn remembrance of those we have lost and continue our fight for safe and equitable conditions in the workplace.

Make no mistake, every worker lost, either on the job or from the long-term effects of workplace injuries and illnesses, is a tragedy. Here in Florida, 275 workers needlessly lost their lives in the workplace in 2020. Across the nation, 4,746 workers lost their lives at work in 2020, and approximately 120,000 working people passed away due to diseases contracted due to their jobs.

This information comes from the AFL-CIO’s Death on the Job Report, an annual report on the state of worker safety in the United States. While some progress has been made at the federal level, workers’ well-being is still in a precarious state after years of attacks by big businesses and their allies. I encourage our members to read the 2022 Death on the Job Report here.

Workers Memorial Day also commemorates the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health act in 1970 and the subsequent establishment of America’s main workplace safety governance institution, OSHA. One of the main drivers for the formation of our Labor Movement was the decades of workplace tragedies and lax standards that led to them. The formation of OSHA was, and is, a key step in the right direction to preventing tragic losses of life in the workplace. Unfortunately, OSHA has been consistently threatened and weakened throughout its existence, though there have been recent improvements at the federal level.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of just how essential America’s working people are. Time and time again, we have answered the call for our nation, states, and communities, often at great risks to ourselves. America’s Labor Movement will continue to tirelessly fight for the safety and dignity of all working people. This year’s Workers Memorial Day is a solemn reminder of just how crucial that fight is. 

In Solidarity,

 Mike Williams

President, Florida AFL-CIO

West Central Florida Labor Council President Shawn McDonnell on the Importance of Workers Memorial Day

Today, April 28th, we honor Workers Memorial Day, a day where we remember all those killed or injured needlessly on the job and continue the fighting for strong safety and health protections. From the preventable death of 5 workers when molten slag fell upon them almost 5 years ago at the Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach to the hundreds of workers exposed to toxic levels of lead at the Gopher Resource lead smelter in Tampa to the countless frontline workers who served through the pandemic with or without personal protective equipment (PPE), workers suffer when profit-seeking corporations go unchecked and policy-making and enforcement fall short.

This past legislative session, Tallahassee failed to pass a bi-partisan Heat Illness Prevention bill (SB 732 / HB 887) that would have enacted protections for workers exposed to heat, including access to water, breaks, and shade while also providing training for workers and supervisors to recognize and treat heat stress. As temperatures continue to climb, instances of heat stress are only going to rise. Failure to pass this critical safety legislation shows how Tallahassee prioritizes worker safety.

With the support of Tampa City Council, the West Central Florida Labor Council obtained an Apprenticeship Ordinance last year which requires that major public construction projects use 12 percent of their labor from state-registered apprenticeship programs. This mirrors an ordinance recently passed in St. Petersburg.  Apprenticeships programs are the industry gold standard for construction safety and skill level, and they put locals to work with our tax dollars.  However, ordinance compliance has been a challenge as we ensure that general contractors such as DPR on the Hanna Ave project in Tampa obey the law and utilize apprentices to ensure high-quality building and safety standards.

We can do better to protect workers on the job, not just on Workers Memorial Day but every day. According to the AFL-CIO’s Death on the Job Report, a yearly study of worker deaths and injuries, 5,333 died on the job nationwide in 2019, including 306 here in Florida. Every worker lost is a tragedy, and as a nation and state, we need to ensure a safe and healthy workplace for all working people. They deserve nothing less.

Shawn McDonnell
President – West Central Florida Labor Council, AFL-CIO

You can also read the message on the West Central Florida Labor Council page here.

Letter to the Editor by Palm Beach-Treasure Coast AFL-CIO Field Representative Ted Parsons

This letter was originally run in the Palm Beach Post, you can read it here.

Fifty-one years ago, on April 28, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), promising workers the right to a safe job. On April 28 of each year, working families and union members gather for Workers Memorial Day to commemorate workers who have lost their lives or livelihoods at work because of a workplace injury or illness and to organize to ensure the end of these unnecessary, preventable deaths, and injuries. Florida has just under 9 million workers who are covered under OSHA in 717,855 workplaces and only 54 Florida OSHA inspectors. It would take them 477 years to inspect each Florida workplace once. The number of OSHA inspectors is near its lowest number since the agency opened 51 years ago.

That’s why workers and their unions are standing up, speaking out, fighting back, and organizing. There is no stopping until there are strong standards & enforcement to protect workers from harmful exposures, dangerous conditions, and retaliation for reporting unsafe conditions. All workers should be able to go to work each day and return home safely to their loved ones.

Ted Parsons, Palm Beach–Treasure Coast Florida AFL-CIO, Jupiter

WMNF Tampa: “All workers deserve dignity”: Florida labor recognizes Workers’ Memorial Day

WMNF Radio in Tampa spoke to Florida AFL-CIO Director of Politics and Public Policy Dr. Rich Templin and IBEW Local 824 member Kim Smith about the importance of Workers Memorial Day. You can listen and read to the story here.

Palm Beach-Treasure Coast Hosts Digital Memorial and Town Hall in Honor of Workers Memorial Day

This Workers Memorial Day, the Palm Beach-Treasure Coast AFL-CIO hosted a digital townhall and memorial for those we have lost on the job. You can watch it here.

South Florida AFL-CIO Rallies in Support of Unionizing Starbucks Workers

Monday, April 11th, members of the South Florida AFL-CIO, Miami Springs City Councilman Victor Vazquez, and community allies rallied in support of unionizing Starbucks workers in Miami Springs and against union-busting tactics by the coffee giant. Over 60 people attended the rally, including members of CWA, Teamsters, TWU, IUPAT, and UTD.

Workers at the Miami Springs Starbucks, located at 52 Curtiss Parkway, Miami Springs, Florida 33166, filed for a union election on March 14th, and ballots were set to be received Wednesday, April 13th from the National Labor Relations Board. In the lead-up to the election, management at the location has ramped up union-busting methods, including mandatory anti-union meetings.

The unionization effort at the Miami Springs Starbucks is part of a unionization surge at the coffee chain nationwide, and union members in the South Florida Area are standing in support of the unionizing workers.

“We are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with these workers to support their organizing efforts in any way we can against corporate giants like Starbucks that want to continue to suppress wages and benefits and not treat their workers with the dignity and respect they deserve as they pursue a better life for themselves and their families,” said Jeffrey Mitchell, President of the South Florida AFL-CIO.”

Members of the Starbucks Workers United Miami Springs Organizing Committee thanked their sisters and brothers in labor for rallying in their support.

“I wanted to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for showing up to support us today and all of the work you put in to make today a resounding success for our workers and union effort. I know, without a doubt, that everyone who entered those meetings left feeling a strong sense of support from our broader union brothers and sisters as well as a renewed enthusiasm for the hard work that lies ahead. This success would not have been possible without the unconditional support and experienced advice that was given to us in the days leading up to this demonstration.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to win our union and secure a contract that benefits all of our workers and their needs. Once again, thank you all so much for the time and energy you generously offered to us today. If you could forward this message to whoever needs to hear it, it would be greatly appreciated.”

In solidarity,
The Starbucks Workers United Miami Springs Organizing Committee

Other Starbucks locations are pushing to unionize here in the Sunshine State, including in Hialeah, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville.

2022 Legislative Session Sine Die Brief

The 2022 Florida Legislative Session has officially come to a close. The Legislature could not pass the budget in a timely manner, so the 2022 Legislative Session was extended until today, March 14th. The legislature adjourned Sine Die this afternoon at 1:03 P.M. 

Below, you will find our official Sine Die report, including information on the key bills facing Florida’s working families and whether or not they passed this year. Click here to download the brief.