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AFSCME helps defeat anti-union bills in Florida

Photo credit: Getty
By AFSCME Staff ·

Although 2021 began with the most pro-union president in decades at the helm of the federal government, wealthy special interests and their front groups renewed their attacks against workers and their unions in statehouses across the country.

From Florida to Indiana to New Hampshire, they launched the same old attacks that would make it harder for workers to come together in strong unions and speak with one voice. Their goal was to silence working people so we can’t speak up for our communities, our families and the services we provide to keep our country running.

But AFSCME and our allies vowed to fight back and we succeeded.

Most recently, in Florida, we defeated one bill that sought to weaken unions and defund them, and another bill that targeted public employee pensions.

Senate Bill 1014/House Bill 835 would have required all public worker unions in Florida to report the number of employees and the number of members in bargaining units every year, with the need to re-establish majority support if membership dropped below 50%. Decertification would result in the cancellation or loss of those bargaining unit’s contracts – essentially a denial of workers’ union rights. The bill also would have eliminated automatic dues deduction, an attempt to defund unions.

Senate Bill 84 would have closed the defined benefit plan for state employees and led to the slow death of the Florida Retirement System. The bill would have potentially affected any current or former public employee who hoped to retire with a decent, predictable, defined pension.

These attacks come as union popularity is on the rise and workers across the country are realizing the union difference.

AFSCME defeated these anti-union bills in coalition with the AFL-CIO and its Florida members, as well as our allies in the labor, faith and civic engagement communities. Our union ran a robust member engagement program that generated more than 7,000 contacts to legislators, promoted press coverage across the state and brought the stories of AFSCME members to the forefront.

AFSCME Retirees across the state organized to defeat the anti-pension bill. They called and emailed their senators, making it clear that they wanted the legislature’s “hands off my pension.”

Dave Jacobsen, president of AFSCME Retiree Chapter 79, was a vocal leader against the bill who testified before two state Senate committees to urge a no vote.

"The efforts of Florida AFSCME Chapter 79 Retirees across the state, from Pensacola to Miami, protected the 644,000 state workers and the 433,000 retirees from this pension-killing bill,” Jacobsen said. “If the Florida Legislature again tries to kill our pension system, we'll strike back just as hard as we did this legislative session.”

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