by Jenn Powell, Alachua County Labor Coalition Co-Chair and CWA Local 3170 Organizer
The 2023 Florida legislative session dealt many blows to Florida residents and undid years of work by the Alachua County Labor Coalition, but SB 256’s attack on public sector unions is and will continue to be a devastating blow to the union movement. All public sector unions in Florida are affected except police, fire, and corrections unions, which are exempt. (Their support staff is NOT exempt.)
In 2018, similar legislation targeted only teachers, and they had to reach 50 percent membership or risk decertification. This time they have come after ALL public sector unions and raised the threshold to 60 percent while also outlawing payroll dues deduction. SB 256 went into effect on July 1.
Hundreds of union members attended committee meetings in Tallahassee and spoke against the legislation, while only three lobbyists, two from out of state, spoke in favor. But here we are.
Over 100 union members have signed the new card and set up self-pay dues at CWA 3170. There are hundreds more at the Alachua County Education Association (ACEA). But as we approach critical deadlines, members worry, will their union survive?
Many people take for granted the benefits that unions have fought for that could soon be on the chopping block. ACEA has been a union since 1974; CWA 3170 since 1975.
Most employees don’t know what life is like without that union contract. CWA contract benefits, such as rest time, overtime, and even the ability to have representation if you face discipline, will be left to the discretion of the employer.
If you work for the City of Gainesville/GRU/Alachua County Library District or Gainesville Housing Authority and are covered by the CWA contract, you can sign up to join the union at bit.ly/cwa3170.
If you are already a dues paying member, you must re-sign at that link.
CWA must recertify in October, so please do not delay. It only takes two minutes to sign. Your union contract depends on it.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact Jenn Powell at 352-215-2243.