April 2011

Florida Workers: Standing Together
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Teachers, firefighters, health care workers and numerous public employees took to Florida's streets in March for statewide demonstrations against Republican-sponsored legislation to roll back workers' rights.

The new legislative session, which began March 8, was met with spirited rallies in more than 20 cities, as thousands of pro-worker activists began what they say will be a growing voice of opposition to Gov. Rick Scott's planned elimination of collective bargaining rights and PLAs, deep cuts in the state's public education system and other job-killing policies.

GOP state senators began the new session with plans to tackle Florida's budget, introduce tax cut legislation for large businesses and erode workers' gains at the bargaining table. But IBEW members like Jason Smith say activists are invested and optimistic about the next few months.

"I've never seen our state's workers as together on one issue as we are now," said Smith, a member of Tampa Local 824. He served as a mobilization coordinator for the coalition of labor activists sponsoring the massive March 8 "Awake the State" demonstrations. "In their efforts to scapegoat workers, Republican leaders overplayed their hand.

"People—including nonunion workers—are connecting the dots between unions and the middle class, and they know what will happen to them if our bargaining rights are taken away and our jobs destroyed," he said.

Orlando Local 606 Business Manager Bob Carr cites Scott's approval of tax breaks for large corporations as evidence that the governor's policies are fiscally unsound.

"His idea is to have almost no taxes on corporations," Carr said. "How is that efficient business? It's just going to put the tax burden on working people. Our governor is just like [Wisconsin's] Scott Walker, with the goal to make America a Third World country."

A bill that would erode collective bargaining was submitted to the Florida legislature by state Rep. Scott Plakon. If passed, the law would strip most public workers of union rights, including collective bargaining. Plakon—who won the Associated Builders & Contractors "Friend of Free Enterprise" award in 2009—exempted firefighters and law enforcement officers from the proposed law, which labor leaders say was an attempt to drive a wedge between the various state employees' unions.


Read more: THE WAR ON WORKERS: Favorites Draw Record Votes

Read more: Wisconsin Ground Zero for Attacks on Workers

Read more: Ohio Workers Stand Up to Anti-Worker Legislation

Read more: New Hampshire: 'The Toughest Fight Yet'

Read more: Indiana Right-to-Work Effort Derailed by Labor Pushback

Read more: Meanwhile, Back in Washington, D.C.:
GOP Plan Calls for Gutting Rights, Slashing Jobs

Read more: Activists Keep up the Pressure on Michigan Lawmakers

Read more: Maine Workers Tell Gov.:
'We Need Good Jobs, Not Partisan Attacks'

Statewide demonstrations in Florida protested the proposed elimination of PLAs and collective bargaining rights.

Resources for
IBEW Activists

Where to go to get involved and
stay up-to-date

We Are One
Americans will be rallying across the country the first week of April in support of workers' rights. Go to the Web site to find an action near you.

States of Denial
An online resource for grassroots activists.

Progressive States Network
An organization committed
to promoting pro-worker, progressive legislation in
all 50 states.

Economic Policy Institute 
A nonpartisan think tank focused on the needs of working people.

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