AFSCME Florida on the passage of Bradenton Tax Referendum: “A Win for the Entire Community”

Last week, voters in Manatee County Florida said yes to a tax increase to address a crisis in teacher and support staff retention. Workers with AFSCME Local 1584, the union representing approximately 1000 school support staff, praised the surprise passage of the referendum as an important victory for the entire community.

“You can’t have quality schools without quality jobs for the teachers and staff who serve our students and families.  This is a big step forward and a win for the entire community,” said Deanna Howell, President of Local 1584 and Bus Driver for 13 years.

Pay for teachers and school staff is not competitive with surrounding counties and has resulted in a near crisis in teacher and staff retention.  As reported in the Bradenton Herald, office workers with commercial driver’s licenses from the school district’s transportation department are having to fill in as bus drivers because of the staff shortage.  This has led children arriving home late and parent complaints.

"The community stood up for our children by standing up for the teachers who educate them, the bus drivers who get them to school; the bus monitors who keep them safe, the mechanics who keep the buses running; the custodians who maintain our schools, and the food service workers who keep them fed,” said Jana Weaver, Executive Director of AFSCME Florida.

The four-year tax increase is expected to raise approximately $33 million dollars during that period.  

Bus driver Robert Hicks pointed out the need for strong schools as a baseline to building a strong community: “We cannot attract the businesses we need, build the community we want or even develop the next generation of leaders we hope to have if we continue to deliver the type of funding to our children that we have been."