2020 has been a year of hardship and challenge unlike any of us have seen before. We have lost friends, loved ones, and much of life as we knew it before Coronavirus. We have lived through unprecedented uncertainty and demonstrated our commitment as essential workers to the communities we serve and the families we love. During this time, we also showed our true character as a people and as an organization committed to improving the lives of workers and their families.
This year has forced us to adapt in all new ways, and we are proud to report that even in the midst of this crisis our union grew by more than 2,000 new members. We helped elect more than 80% of our endorsed candidates in local, state, and federal elections through the efforts of our member organizers who came together with cutting-edge organizing tools to push our union to the next level.
COVID has also exposed the struggles of working families in ways that are laying the groundwork for real change in our time. Last year the demand for affordable healthcare as a basic human right went mainstream. We saw for ourselves a new reality emerging as we fought for paid sick leave for our new FPSU adjunct members and helped pass Amendment 2 for a $15 minimum wage in Florida. COVID-19 has also shown us the possibilities of restructuring our workplaces through telework, reduced workweeks, and more.
In fact, this pandemic has changed the world as we know it and that includes the bargaining and political work that impacts our members. Perhaps now more than ever, anything really is possible if we can imagine it. Is it time to revisit the decades-old demand for reducing the work week? Is Florida finally ready to provide paid sick leave to all workers as a basic right? Maybe now our elected leaders can be persuaded about the promise of tuition-free higher education as we attempt to recover from this pandemic?
In addition to the possibilities, we know there will be challenges ahead. We expect further assaults on union rights by the Florida legislature early next year and are preparing for historic budget fights at the local and state levels to ensure there are no cuts to public services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These fights will test our unity and resolve, but if there is anything we have learned this year it’s that we come together when times demand it and do what must be done. 2021 will be no different, and we encourage all current members to increase your COPE contribution for this important work before the New Year.
As we close out 2020, we would like to offer hope for real progress in the months ahead, express our gratitude for the contributions of all those in our union family, and reflect on the loss of so many important people in our lives. This has been a year unlike any other, but with a renewed sense of purpose and appreciation for the struggles of our people we can mark 2020 as a turning point for racial and economic justice. The ground has shifted beneath our feet and as a result a new reality is possible. We believe that 20,000 workers and their families can change the world.