Last fall, the members of Local 1363 (AFSCME Florida) overwhelmingly approved a strong new contract that promised to strengthen workers’ voices within Miami-Dade County’s Jackson Health System and improve services in the state’s most populous area.
During the ratification vote, member Jorge Gonzalez Jr. said he voted yes on the contract because it “provides all of us with a stronger union, stronger protections and a share in the economic growth happening all around us.”
Recently, the union was able to put that stronger voice to the test.
Facing the possibility of 30 members losing their jobs through layoffs, the negotiators were able to find immediate placement for all but nine of the members in comparable positions within the countywide health system. Then, working through stewards and leaders across the union, they were able to show Jackson the need to keep all the members fully employed.
For Brenda Jones, a mental health specialist, having her job saved underscored why she has been an AFSCME member since she got her job.
“You always know that with AFSCME you will never stand alone,” she said. “I love what I do because I am helping people get better, to help themselves and become the person they and their families believe they can be. Without AFSCME there would be less people doing that, less people keeping our communities safe and strong.”
But the victories didn’t stop there. For almost six years, many emergency room technicians had been misclassified and underpaid. Members were able to secure reclassification to senior ER Techs. Now, not only are they being paid the correct salary, they got generous retroactive pay.
It is just another example how the local’s strong membership growth continues to pay off for members every day. These victories in right-to-work Florida also illustrate how workers can gain strength when they come together in unions regardless of where they live.