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Member Activism Wins in Florida Legislative Session

By Mark McCullough ·

On Monday, the Florida legislative session signaled "sine die" and drew to a close. For AFSCME Florida Council 79 members, it was the end of a frustrating yet ultimately successful session, in which a large number of highly divisive bills were passed by anti-worker lawmakers.

Thanks to non-stop grassroots activism, AFSCME members fought off one of the most aggressive anti-union measures proposed in recent history. House Bill 1197, which would have required every member to re-join every year, eliminated payroll deductions and set artificial thresholds to bargain for increased pay and benefits. HB 1197 had passed the Florida House of Representatives, even with bipartisan opposition.

Anti-union organizations ran television ads, sent letters and made a full-court press to convince the Senate to pass it as well, but AFSCME members and allies made their voice heard through calls, letters, home visits and a digital campaign targeting key legislators. They also explained why the legislation would hurt entire communities and, as a result, HB 1197 was not taken up in the Florida Senate. AFSCME’s collective voice will continue to be heard to demand economic justice and workplace fairness.  

Additionally, in what would be the largest budget in state history, legislators released $112.1 billion for the upcoming fiscal year that, thanks to AFSCME's lobbying efforts, includes more than $1 billion for pay raises for state workers and contractors. All state workers will see across-the-board 5.38% pay raises. No state workers will make less than $15 per hour. And teachers, bus drivers, workers at state-contracted nursing homes and Medicaid contractors will all see starting pay at $15 per hour.

AFSCME Florida President and AFSCME International Vice President Vicki Hall said, "We applaud the leadership of both the House and Senate for historic increases for the state workers who provide the vital, essential services our communities need. State workers need both living wages to lift families out of poverty and enhanced compensation for professionals whose pay has not kept pace with comparable private-sector counterparts.”

Hall added, “I am constantly amazed by the professionalism and dedication our members demonstrate every day. These historic increases to starting pay and significant across-the-board pay raises are well deserved and much appreciated."

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