South Florida AFL-CIO Women of Labor Event Honors Three AFSCME Leaders

The Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami recently was packed with the women who really make the vibrant South Florida community run as the hotel was the site of the South Florida AFL-CIO’s Women of Labor reception.

Nine women were honored for their work to better the lives of workers and families across the region through political and legislative action, grassroots mobilization and community service efforts.

Three of the honorees come from the AFSCME family: AFSCME Local 199 president and AFSCME International Vice President Se'Adoreia Brown; AFSCME Local 1184 president Vicki Hall and AFSCME Local 2862 president Ketha Otis.

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, the event’s keynote speaker, said the women were not just leaders within their unions but were role models in the community, serving as examples of how success is defined by one’s work not one’s gender.

“So often, particularly as women, we are afraid to take those first steps towards activism and leadership, we tend to play it safe. But this event helps show that, even if not every step is perfect, there are plenty of other women on the journey with you and ready to stand with you,” said Otis, a Vocational Rehabilitation Technician for the state of Florida. She leads the local that represents state workers in Dade and Monroe Counties.

“AFSCME has a long history of supporting and promoting women’s issues, such as pay equity, women’s leadership development and empowerment so it is only natural that our union is home to so many female leaders. But it is not enough to rest of our laurels and enjoy this recognition, we must ensure that we foster the next generation of female leader both within AFSCME but in the labor movement as a whole because with the challenges we are all facing we can’t let anyone hold back just because they are a woman,” said Brown. Now the president of the local that represents Miami-Dade County general employees, she worked her way through the ranks of AFSCME Local 199 starting as a dues-paying member, volunteer member organizer, an AFSCME Next Wave Chapter member, and shop steward.

“When I meet a member who is on the edge of becoming more active but is a little afraid of the unknown I tell them don't be intimidated by what you don't know. The comfort zone is a nice place, but nothing grows there. People become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power, that fire that motivates them every day. And now I’m more motivated than ever before to keep growing and strengthening our labor movement,” said Hall, a bus driver who leads the local representing staff for the Miami-Dade Public Schools.