Florida’s coming war on collective bargaining for state employees

By Francisco Alvarado, FloridaBulldog.org 

State Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami

State Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami

When Miami state Rep. Carlos Trujillo was interviewed on Spanish language radio station Actualidad 1020 he boldly proclaimed that Republicans will ask voters in 2018 to eliminate collective bargaining for state employees from the Florida Constitution.

“It is going to be a nuclear war between the government, the unions, the Republicans and the Democrats,” Trujillo said on the air Sept. 30. “That war is coming.”

Trujillo said a proposed amendment to do away with collective bargaining could be among the proposed constitutional changes that the Constitutional Revision Commission, a 28-member group selected by state elected and judicial officials that convenes every 10 years, will consider in 2017. Possible changes would then be placed on the 2018 ballot.

His comments are a strong indication that the revision commission will be stacked with ultraconservative appointees who are going to try to push through amendments that are not in the best interests of state residents, say union leaders and a Democratic legislator who spoke to FloridaBulldog.org.

“I don’t think it’s bluster,” said state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami). “I think [Trujillo] is totally serious given how extreme the House Republican leadership has been on issues affecting working families.”

“We are not taking [Trujillo’s] comments lightly at all,” added Andy Madtes, executive director of AFSCME Florida, which represents 15,000 government employees. “We are ready to activate thousands of union members to protect their rights. He made the declaration about going to war.”

In a Dec. 21 interview, Trujillo downplayed his on-the-air comments. “I definitely think it is being blown out of proportion,” Trujillo said. “I don’t sit on the Constitutional Revision Commission and I don’t select the people who sit on it.”

CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION COMMISSION

However, Gov. Rick Scott, incoming Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli — all Republicans — get to appoint 24 of the 28 commission members. Scott, Negron and Crisafulli can select anyone to serve on the commission, including legislators. Scott also gets to pick the chairman from the 15 people he puts on the commission.

Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi is automatically appointed to the constitutional board. The three remaining members are to be selected by the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Florida with the advice of the other justices. After holding hearings to receive public input, the commission has six months before the 2018 general election to place its proposed amendments on the ballot.

The last time a Constitutional Revision Commission convened, most of its members were appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, and Senate president Toni Jennings and House speaker Dan Webster, both Republicans. Democrat Bob Butterworth was attorney general, so both parties were evenly represented on the commission.

In his radio appearance in September, Trujillo was adamant about ending state workers’ ability to collectively bargain salaries. During the interview, show host Roberto Rodriguez-Tejera suggested that private sector employees should unionize in order to get higher minimum wages considering government unions negotiate starting salaries for its members.

Trujillo countered that it would be more effective to eliminate the government unions’ power to negotiate collective bargaining agreements. “We are going to do it,” Trujillo said. “We have the Constitutional Revision Commission that is coming up. It is the opportunity to take things out of the Constitution.”

Yet, Trujillo told FloridaBulldog.org last week that the revision commission has more important issues to tackle, such as term limits for legislators and universal school vouchers. “Those are some things the commission should look at,” he said. “The state is facing much bigger problems than collective bargaining.”

Union leaders remain unconvinced. Trujillo’s comments have “turned into a battle cry for people who want to fight for all Floridians to achieve the American Dream,” said Monica Russo, executive vice president of SEIU Local 1199, which represents more than 22,000 public and private sector healthcare workers. “We are taking his threats very seriously.”

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5 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Jeff Weinberger says:

    There’s more than one issue to consider here. First, workers need to preserve their rights and benefits and beyond that, rather than always being on the defensive, be demanding more in wages, e.g., the Fight For 15, and power. Second, workers need to organize autonomously as the leadership of those unions mentioned in the article, AFSCME and SEIU, are completely sold out to business interests, they sell out their rank-and-file as a matter of due course. Both these unions already have endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, despite the fact that Hillary has come out opposed to FF15, is sold out to the enemies of Labor, is a war-monger and is steeped in corruption. Furthermore, SEIU is the primary backer of the organizing going on around FF15, so its endorsement of Clinton, which has been reviled by a fair number of SEIU rand-and-file, is mind-boggling.

    Last of all, the constitutional amendment process defined in the article appears to be one which, itself, needs to be amended in the direction of allowing more grassroots, democratic participation. If 28 people appointed by and for the elite class can place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, whereas it takes hundreds of thousands of voter signatures to place initiatives for Medical Marijuana or Solar Choice on the ballot, then something is very rotten in the state of Florida. Of course, most of us already know this.

  2. Rolandoamor says:

    Time to get out of office trugjillo

  3. Nancy Argenziano says:

    The Republican party is all about being owned by the corporations. They hate the working class and do all they can to take away any protections they may have. We are moving backwards in Florida especially, back to the days when there were no labor laws. Soon the working class will be working 60 hour weeks for the same money they get now and have no vacations, no safety, nothing. I cannot understand how any working person could vote Republican This NEW Republican party is really owned by the mega corps.

  4. David Lavery says:

    Representative Carlos Trujillo and like minded ultra conservative Republicans have declared war on working families all across the United States. Kicking the little guy who just wants a fair break is becoming all too common these days. Ultra conservatives not only want to eliminate state unions, they want to make it harder to form a private sector labor union-see Rand Paul’s “Right to Work Act.”

    Most sponsors and co-sponsors of these trash bills and amendments have never belonged to a labor union. Nor have they been in hazardous positions at work where safety laws and inspectors forced employers to make proper safeguards.

    I hope the citizens of Florida wake up and send people like; Carlos Trujillo back to their so called illustrious careers in the private sector.

  5. Sue says:

    THIS is part of the dive to the bottom.

    Average American lifetime earning potential before economic crash: $3 million

    Now: under 2 million.

    1/3 of our earning potential is gone and not coming back.

    Think about that and try not to feel sick… Because there IS one way to fix it… Here is how:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/01/04/bernie-sanders-vs-the-corporatocracy/

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