Legislative Update #1
March 8, 2019
Legislative Session Begins – Fund Our Future
On March 4th, the day before session began, FEA and UFF members were involved in many events statewide to support the FEA campaign #FundOurFutureFL. One example was members from the Leon Classroom TeachersAssociation and all five Tallahassee UFF chapters rallying and waving signs in front of the Old Capitol building. They were joined by FEA President Fed Ingram, FEA VP Andrew Spar, and Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna.
Later Monday, forty UFF leaders from Broward College, UF GAU, FSU, FSU GAU, FAMU, FAMU GAU, and TCC had lunch with AFT President Randi Weingarten. Prior to Weingarten’s challenging remarks to rally for Fund Our Future, all seven chapter leaders had the opportunity to tell President Weingarten of the successes and challenges of their chapter.
From FEA Frontline – Thanks to Stephanie Kunkel
The House Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee considered and voted out (approved) HB 13 on Tuesday.Sponsored by Rep. Jayer Williamson (R-Pace), HB 13 is a continuation of attacks against Florida workers who currently enjoy all rights protected under the state Constitution’s collective bargaining provisions. FEA members, police, firefighters and state workers will all be affected by this bill, which would prohibit public sector collective bargaining agreements from including any provisions to allow union release time. Thus, local union presidents and other release-time members would be prohibited from receiving paid time for union activities during normal work hours.
The measure passed the committee by 9-5 vote, but not without vigorous opposition from some members. Rep. Javier Fernandez (D-Coral Gables) offered an amendment to retain member employees’ rights to continue union activities without interference. As we expected, the amendment failed.
We thank Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) and especially Rep. Rene Plasencia (R-Titusville), who spoke passionately in opposition to the bill. Rep. Eskamani recapped just a few of the rights we enjoy because of unions. Rep.Plasencia shared that he was the lone member of the teachers’ union who served as his school site union representative. He also reminded the committee that he has watched his party attack teachers and personal friends who are firefighters over the past several legislative sessions. He said that this time around he would do more than vote no and told the committee why he strongly opposed the measure.
UFF President Karen Morian provided testimony to the committee as to why this bill abridges a union’s right to collectively bargain and is unconstitutional.
Who’s coming to Tallahassee?
This session we will again be working closely with the AFL-CIO Working Families Lobby Corps to lobby legislators in Tallahassee on pro-public education issues and against anti-union legislation. If you haven’t already, be sure to let us know via the AFL-CIO Working Families Lobby Corps “I’m coming” when to expect you, and book your hotels ASAP.
Joining the AFL-CIO Lobby Corps this week were Bobby Mermer and Andrea Medina from UF GAU Chapter and AnissaHarris and James Norton from Broward College.
UFF Sponsors Capital Report
On Mondays and Thursdays during session, UFF is sponsoring the Capital Report on Mondays and Thursdays at6:30 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. The program originates from WFSU and is carried on many NPR stations. The program also streams live, and archives can be found at this link:https://news.wfsu.org/programs/capital-report.
The sponsorship is announced before and at the end of the program. The program is repeated at 9:30 P.M.Listening to the Capital Report is an excellent way to monitor the events of the day in the Florida Legislature.
The challenge laid out to the Legislature by Governor DeSantis at the State of the State address was “Be Bold!” But the start of this session seemed to be a replay of the past sessions. Boldness is perceived to be attacking teachers and faculty rights and offering vouchers and bonuses instead of real funding for schools, colleges, and universities.
Being BOLD is Rep. Plasencia, Rep. Eskamani, and Rep. Fernendez who informed the committee members, but their straight talk was ignored by the committee members who were directed to vote YES on HB 13 without considering the facts or the constitutionality of the proposed bill.