A Contract Win Full of Firsts Fuels Growth for AFSCME Florida’s Manatee County School Board Local

You can find some photos from one of the rallies by clicking here.

They marched. They waved signs. They spoke up at school board hearings. They spoke out in the community. And they won.

For the members of AFSCME Local 1584, their new contract with the Manatee County School Board didn’t come easy. They had to go door to door organizing their coworkers and rallied support in the community. But, thanks to a 20 percent growth in membership over the past year and a never quit mentality, they were able to keep focused.

“Our commitment to the students and families we serve drives everything we do and we kept that in the forefront of all of our negotiations and communications,” said Deanna Howell, President of Local 1584 and Bus Driver for 13 years.

The new contract includes the first base pay raise in more than five years for many workers, and even longer for others. Pay steps will increase of between 2 and 6 percent, depending on an employee’s current level. Tool allowances are more than doubling. Perfect and exemplary attendance bonuses will increase to up to $1,000, double the current maximum. Members can now participate in the PEOPLE program through paycheck deduction. The Local now has time they can speak to employees about the importance of joining AFSCME at back-to-school workshops and conferences. And labor-management and safety committees are being started that AFSCME representatives can participate in without loss of pay.

“The county devotes so little funding to our schools when compared to the counties that neighbor us that we have a lot of work to do to attract and retain the workforce these schools need,” said Howell. “And while this contract doesn’t get us all the way there, it is a massive step in the right direction.”

The members are not turning their attention to getting school funding on a more equitable footing with neighboring counties through a March special election. Members voted to endorse a one-mill tax and are now working with community partners and the school board to ensure voters understand why its passage is so important.

“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,” said Robert Hicks, Bus Driver.