Local 1245 members are traveling to Florida to help public employee unions there defeat anti-union legislation that would privatize thousands of union jobs and crush the labor movement in Florida.
“Utilities sometimes help each other deal with storm damage through their ‘mutual aid’ agreements,” said Local 1245 Organizer Fred Ross Jr., who helped put together the delegation to Florida. “But this is mutual aid union-style: we’re joining together to prevent damage to our livelihoods.”
The Local 1245 members joining the effort in Florida are Jennifer Gray and Jammie Angeles, PG&E Sacramento; Dean Evans, journeyman lineman in Outside Line; Erika Barron, PG&E Fresno; Francesca Keeney and Lorenso Arciniega, PG&E San Jose; Charley Souters, Merced Irrigation District; Thanh Trach, PG&E Stockton; and retired Local 1245 Assistant Business Manager Frank Saxsenmeier.
The Florida battle is being waged by members of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), who have been fighting back against unprecedented attacks by Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other anti-worker politicians. The fight is over a bill prohibiting automatic payroll deduction to collect union dues from public employees.
The bill, according to AFSCME Council 79 President Jeanette Wynn, “is a coordinated, well-thought-out effort to crush unions, silence the voices of working men and women and, in doing all of that, cripple the middle class.”
The Local 1245 delegation flew to Florida on April 12 and will be active on the ground until their return on May 2. While there, they will help put pressure on nine swing votes in the state senate. Their activities could include going to worksites to mobilize union members, seeking support from community groups and church allies, organizing marches, and building media awareness of the issue.
AFSCME recently discovered that Gov. Scott is hip deep in ethical problems stemming from the proposed privatization of the state’s Medicaid program. It turns out that certain firms could reap a major financial windfall from the privatization scheme–including Solantic, a private sector urgent care chain founded by Gov. Scott himself.
After AFSCME publicized the conflict of interest, Scott announced that his family would divest itself of a $62 million stake in the company.