AFSCME Florida Digital Newsletter / Fall 2017

Welcome from AFSCME Florida Executive Director Andy Madtes

Our state, and our union, was put to the test over these past few months. Between prepping for the storm, dealing with evacuations and, now, the rebuilding process, there is not a single part of the state that was spared from Hurricane Irma’s impact.

But I think it is safe to say that we have passed the test. We worked multiple days with no rest in hospitals, at call centers or as part of storm landing teams. We prepared our communities, supported our neighbors and continue to put in the hours and sweat and dedication to clean up and rebuild our state.

I want to thank everyone who stepped up in ways big and small. Retirees helped to organize relief supply events and led outreach to our impacted brothers and sisters. Our council staff added an incredible amount of work to see where the greatest needs were and how they could be met all while never missing a beat in bargaining and enforcing. contracts across the state. And hardworking AFSCME members showed that we will never quit on those we serve.

I want you to know that your union, here in Florida and across the country, continues to stand behind you and are here with you every step of the way as we continue the long road of recovery.

Thank you and please be safe this fall and holiday season.

Events and Trainings

From the AFSCME Florida Blog

From time to time we like to share some of the victories and good stories coming from our AFSCME Florida family. If you missed one of the emails or want to go back and read some again you can always find them online at  

One of the most read pieces from these past few months was about how AFSCME Florida, thanks to the generosity of the membership, stepped in to help a member in Punta Gorda who lost her home to Hurricane Irma. This state employee didn’t miss a day of work even through the storm because she knows her job is critical to the community and now knows what being part of the AFSCME family is all about.

Just click here to read “AFSCME Florida Steps in to Help Member Who Lost Home to Hurricane Irma”


AFSCME Advantage

We hope you and your family are safe but many of us are in need of assistance, big and small.

  • The Florida AFL-CIO has established the Florida Workers Relief Fund to provide direct support to union members, community allies, their families, and neighbors in the wake of Irma. To apply for relief, visit
  • Floridians who sustained losses from Hurricane Irma can apply for FEMA’s individual and household programs. To apply, visit The process can also be started via phone by calling toll free to 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

  • AFSCME ADVANTAGE / Union Plus: Disaster Relief Grants of $500 are available to help eligible participants in the AFSCME Advantage/Union Plus Credit Card, Insurance or Mortgage programs who are facing financial hardship due to the disaster. To apply for a disaster relief grant, AFSCME members who participate in any of the following programs may call the numbers below or visit
    • Union Plus Credit Card: 1-800-622-2580 (please have your credit card number available)
    • Union Plus Insurance: 1-800-472-2005
    • Union Plus Mortgage: 1-800-472-2005

Supreme Court to Take Up Anti-Union Janus Case This Term


In September, The U.S. Supreme Court accepted a case called Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which would make the entire public sector “right-to-work” in one fell swoop.

Janus – which the nation’s highest court will take up in the October 2017-June 2018 term – is a blatantly political and well-funded plot to use the highest court in the land to further rig the economic rules against everyday working people.

The forces behind this case know that by joining together in strong unions, working people are able to win the power and voice they need to level the economic and political playing field. However, the people behind this case simply do not believe that working people deserve the same freedoms they have: to negotiate a fair return on their work.

A recent article in The Guardian highlights how this case is part of a blatant, years-long campaign to weaken unions. In a letter to supporters detailed in The Guardian, the CEO of the corporate-backed State Policy Network (SPN) reveals the true intent of a nationwide campaign of which Janus is a part: to strike a “mortal blow” and “defund and defang” America’s unions.

This case started with an overt political attempt by the billionaire governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to attack public service workers through the courts. The merits of the case are clear. Since 1977, a Supreme Court case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education has effectively governed labor relations between public sector employees and employers, allowing employers and employees the freedom to determine labor policies that best serve the public.

When reviewing the legal merits of Janus, it is clear that this attempt to manipulate the court against working people should be rejected.

“This case is yet another example of corporate interests using their power and influence to launch a political attack on working people and rig the rules of the economy in their own favor. When working people are able to join strong unions, they have the strength in numbers they need to fight for the freedoms they deserve, like access to quality health care, retirement security and time off work to care for a loved one,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders. “The merits of the case, and 40 years of Supreme Court precedent and sound law, are on our side. We look forward to the Supreme Court honoring its earlier rulings.”

Stephen Mittons, a member of AFSCME Council 31, also commented on the Janus case.

“My work as a child protection investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is vital to the safety of our state’s most vulnerable children and families,” Mittons said. “This court case is yet another political attack on the freedom of my colleagues and I to speak up to ensure that we can safely and adequately manage our caseloads, which reflects our commitment to safety and public service to our communities.”

Are You on Instagram? So Is Your Union!

Do you like sharing photos and keeping up with friends and family on the popular social media site Instagram? If so, make sure to follow afscme.florida to get a look at how members like you make Florida’s fastest growing union happen! And while you are doing that, also check out the national AFSCME account for a look at what members just like you are doing around the country.


This is the time of year that people give thanks for the good and positive things in their life. And for AFSCME Florida it means giving thanks for all the members who continue to talk to coworkers about why they too should sign their membership card. Growing our union is the best way to make sure we keep winning with better pay and benefits not just today but for years to come.

Our union has signed up more than 3,000 new AFSCME members since the start of this year!  

Most times people haven’t signed a membership card because nobody has asked them to. Want to know how to best break the ice and ask a coworker if they too will join our AFSCME family? Click here to find the AFSCME Florida office in your area and give us a call!

AFSCME Helps Pull Off Upset Win in Florida State Senate Race

The aggressive, and successful, campaign was made possible by AFSCME PEOPLE, the way AFSCME members can help elect local, state and federal candidates who will fight for us and the issues we care about most.

To learn more about AFSCME PEOPLE click here.

Facing long odds going into Election Day, AFSCME members helped to pull off an unexpected 1,664 vote victory in a Florida state senate special election on behalf of a strong support of labor.

Annette Taddeo is someone who is familiar with our community and our issues because she has stood with us on so many times over the years,” said Ketha Otis, chair of AFSCME’s PEOPLE program for South Florida. “We knew we had an opportunity to win but that it would be an uphill battle and would require an aggressive campaign to make it happen.”

AFSCME partnered with SEIU to run an independent expenditure campaign in support of Taddeo. With Senate District 40 home to more than 6,000 workers represented by the two unions, the program was run as a "hybrid campaign," canvassing both members and potential members. Throughout the campaign, AFSCME and SEIU canvassers connected with voters from both unions at their homes to discuss strengthening their union and to urge them to turn out to vote for Taddeo.

The program included persuasion and get out the vote phone banks, direct mail and social media efforts along with almost 8,000 visits to workers at their doors. Through these efforts, AFSCME signed up 29 new members.  

AFSCME also helped to lead the AFL-CIO’s coordinated campaign program and to direct the efforts of the AFSCME-supported grassroots organization For Our Future. FOF coordinated the operations of other progressive organizations to knock on knocking on 145,000 doors of targeted voters.  

Facing an almost 2,200 vote deficit following the Vote By Mail period, Taddeo thanked labor for helping her close the gap during Early Vote and on Election Day.

“Our campaign was a strong coalition of grassroots supporters,” said Taddeo. “And labor and community organizations who unified behind a winning plan. This was a community, grassroots driven effort and I am ready to continue the work in our state capitol.”

“She is someone we know will continue to stand with us and always have an open ear and an open door to working families,” said Otis.

When Public Service Becomes a Divine Calling

By Pablo Ros

It was Christmas eve and Alex Hamilton was getting ready to go home. Then the call came.

Hamilton is a maintenance worker for Sacramento public housing and a member of AFSCME Local 146 (Council 57). The caller said she was trying to cook dinner for relatives arriving the next day but her oven didn’t work.

Hamilton knew this wouldn’t be a quick fix. By the time he got downtown his shift would be over, and his employer wasn’t going to pay him overtime. He could’ve refused to help the caller, but that’s not him.

“I ended up getting out of there past 8 o’clock at night and I certainly didn’t get paid overtime, but I got her oven up and running again, and I felt good about it,” Hamilton says. “I wasn’t going to let anyone down in a situation like that.”

Guided by Empathy and Compassion

Laura Cedidla, a technician who also works for the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) and has known Hamilton for 10 years, says that when Hamilton goes out of his way to help a resident, it’s not the exception to the rule, it’s the rule itself.

Cedidla nominated Hamilton for an AFSCME Never Quit Service Award, which recognizes public service workers who go above and beyond the call of duty in serving their communities.

“It was just so great to see his empathy and compassion for our residents,” Cedidla says. “He’s beyond amazing. He has incredible compassion and respect for others, especially people of lower income or less education. He treats everyone as equals. … We get customer service feedback, and it’s clear that our residents have great respect for Alex.”

Hamilton, who won a Never Quit award, has worked at SHRA for 22 years. For 12 of those years, he’s worked in maintenance, which he says is “the talent that God gave me.”

With a gift for figuring out how things work, he fixes everything from plumbing to electrical to appliances. But sometimes he comes across a person or a situation that moves him to go even further.

Like the time he helped a low-income client who helped others.

“She doesn’t have much of anything but she always helps others. This one time I saw her making a huge pot of oatmeal to feed her cats because she couldn’t afford cat food. So I went to the ATM and came back with a hundred dollars. She was very grateful,” Hamilton says.

His generosity comes from an awareness that things could’ve been different for him, too.

“But for the grace of God it could have been me in housing, hoping someone helped me with my problem,” he says.

Making a Home Through His Service

Hamilton is originally from South Carolina. His father was in the military, and every three years the family moved somewhere new, never allowing him to develop ties to his community. The family settled in Sacramento when he was in his mid-teens, and he’s been there since.

“When I first started working, I used to volunteer at a children’s home, because it was my way of investing in my community,” he says. “I felt like I needed to make Sacramento my own. I felt that it would become my town because of the labor that I would put into making it better.”

Through his years of public service in California’s capital, Hamilton has made a home for himself in his community. He’s built a sense of ownership. And his community, the residents he serves and his coworkers value his work and are grateful.

“That’s why God put us here, to help each other,” Hamilton says. “It makes me feel good when I have made a difference for someone.”

Never Quit Service Awards

Do you know a public service worker who regularly goes above and beyond the call of duty to improve his community?

Nominate them for a AFSCME Never Quit Service Award