We are called to action in this moment, and how we respond will impact you, your family, your coworkers and every worker employed long after you retire. Florida Senate Bills 78, 84 and 1014 represent a serious threat to our contracts, pensions and in some cases our fundamental right to collectively bargain. We have seen these attacks for years, and they have always come from the same place.
The wealthy and powerful in our state want us stopped because they know that we stand up in our workplaces and in our communities for what’s right. This is exactly what they’re afraid of, and it’s precisely what we must do. Right now we have a responsibility to remind our coworkers and elected officials about the essential role of unions in our state before it’s too late.
These bills are going after our adjunct professors, school teachers, bus drivers, janitors and food service workers across Florida, but they will also impact all public employees that we represent. These laws are trying to make your participation in a union as difficult as possible, while encouraging your coworkers to enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining without contributing themselves. SB84 is specifically designed to eliminate pensions for all future employees in the Florida Retirement System.
If these pieces of legislation become law, and we think they will, your union membership will also expire after every contract, and your employer will now be responsible for confirming your membership every time you sign up. Overnight, thousands of us may face a reality of being entitled to no more rights on the job than a worker at McDonalds or Amazon. Things we may take for granted like seniority, holidays and paid leave will be a thing of the past.
Right now our leadership, political, communications and organizing teams are working overtime to support us through this fight, but union staff can only do so much. There are only so many calls organizers can make, the lobbying strategy will only take us so far, and no amount of emails or text messages will convince enough of our coworkers that it’s time to do their part and sign the union card. At the end of the day this is what it comes down to.
This situation demands honesty, and in that spirit I am writing to remind everyone that you are the source of power in this organization and Tallahassee knows this. These attacks are directed squarely at your workplaces and this is ultimately where we have to respond. Right now we must renew, remind and re-energize our coworkers and elected officials about the role of our union. We are leaders on the job and in our communities and this moment calls on us to talk to one another, find common ground and stand together in the face of these attacks regardless of race, gender, age or politics.
Right now we must focus on the things we can control. The landscape around us will shift, the tools our opponents use to attack us will change, but we can’t get distracted from our proven strategy. We’re working people and we have power, we are stronger than people think, and we have more in common than we give ourselves credit for. It’s just a question of whether we are ready to have the hard conversations that will lead us to exercising that power together.
This challenge before us is an opportunity to lead. If you’re ready to have these conversations with your coworkers, neighbors and elected officials to protect our Florida Public Services Union, please call your union rep or respond to this email. Our organizers will work with you individually, as your schedule allows, and we will do whatever it takes to get you involved in this fight in a meaningful way. But I need you to take that first step, and I need you to take it now.