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State Workers Urge Legislators To Raise Their Wages, Too

State workers rallied at the Florida Capitol Building to demand legislators address their needs. Since Governor Ron DeSantis made the push to increase teacher pay, state workers say they desire raises too. Specifically, they are asking for a 5% pay increase. 

Over the last 10 years state workers have received two small increases and one pay cut.

“We are here today to demand that dedicated state workers like those I work with everyday be recognized and treated fairly,” American Federation of State County Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Vice President, Tallulah Thomas said. “We should not have to be here. We shouldn’t have to come to the Capitol and remind the state legislators that it is here. We should not have to contribute our hard, dedicated work, and not be paid.”

AFSCME says lawmakers should be prioritizing state workers in the 2020 Budget. Rep. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) spoke out in support of the workers in protest. Ausley has sponsored legislation involving the adjustments of state worker salaries based on living costs.

“It is well passed time for our state employees to earn a living wage and what we are talking about here is simply a cost of living adjustment,” Ausley said. “It has been more than a decade since any real across the board pay increase has been seen by our hardworking state employees and over a decade is too long.”

AFSCME also held rallies in Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami. Thomas says  state workers are treated like “second-class citizens” and are tired of being overlooked and forgotten.

“These individuals [state workers] are human beings who have to ensure that they do not live paycheck to paycheck and it is a fact that in the state of Florida that we show them no respect,” Jones said. “It is a fact that the public servants provide a vital service to make life better for the Florida residents and every year they’re forced to do so with less and less if their wages stay the same and the cost of the living increases,” said Rep. Shervin Jones (D-Hollywood).

North Florida Democratic Senator Bill Montford is a prominent supporter of state workers. He says one of his top goals before the 2020 session ends is to ensure a pay increase. AFSCME Political Director Jacqui Carmona says the union is working closely with Montford to create this change.

“The message is clear: for too long they have gone with far too little and we are confident that this will be the year where that changes,” Carmona said.

Recently, a legislative committee recommended across the board pay raises for the state’s nearly 50,000 workers. AFSCME hopes that they can move this further to an across the board pay increase.

“We have to value our state workers and what does that mean? It means paying our state workers,” Ausley said.

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Kayla Gallagher