As students, teachers and staff scrambled to finish work before the winter holiday break, AFSCME Local 1184 members had their own end-of-year sprint.
The members, who work for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, turned a tentative agreement on wages and benefits into a ratification vote at 10 sites across Florida’s most populated county in just six days. Members voted 97.6 percent in favor of the contract.
“We have had a great year of growth and success and this new agreement proves how the hard work really pays off,” said school bus driver and Local 1184 President Vicki Hall.
The agreement will provide a 2.8 percent across-the-board pay increase retroactive to July 1, lowers the cost of many medical co-pays, continues zero co-pay for seven classes of generic prescriptions and ensures no change in health care premiums for the third year in a row. And the local won a reclassification for master custodians that moved them up seven pay grades.
For Joan Jones, a member of the bargaining team and Local 1184’s recording secretary, explaining why members turning out to the Miami Beach High School ratification site should vote yes was pretty easy.
“You get more and you are not giving anything up, simple as that,” said Jones. “This contract is what a stronger membership can deliver.”
The local’s success was replicated statewide. AFSCME Florida gained 1,300 members from January-September 2017, an increase of 8 percent, as the union maintained a laser-sharp focus on growth. Membership numbers for the final quarter are being tallied.
The growth comes despite the difficult political environment for labor in Florida, a “right-to-work” state. Additionally, Hurricane Irma and the rest of the busy 2017 hurricane season hampered organizing efforts.
After ending 2017 on a strong note, Local 1184 members like Phillip Glenn, a steward who staffed the ratification site at the South Florida AFL-CIO, are not going to let the momentum slip away in 2018.
“Look (at) what we were able to accomplish, not just with this new contract but with better protections on the job, bringing back the employee-of-the-year recognition program and getting so many day-to-day things done. They may seem small on the outside but mean the world of difference when it is your job,” said Glenn. “So really, my goal for 2018 is simple – more members. Grow, get stronger and keep raising the bar.”