Days After Statewide Rallies, Both House and Senate Propose Raises for State Workers

Days After Statewide Rallies, Both Chambers of the Florida Legislature Propose Pay Raises for Nearly 50,000 State Employees

Despite a strong economy and a booming population, Florida’s nearly 50,000 state employees are some of the lowest paid in the entire nation. After years of downsizing, budget cuts, and eviscerated services, state workers have had enough and have started fighting back.

Last week, with an official impasse declared in their contract negotiations, the dedicated men and women who devote themselves to serving Florida held large rallies in Miami, Tallahassee, Jacksonville and Tampa to demand justice. They were joined by dozens of retirees, elected officials, and faith leaders all calling for immediate raises for thousands of overworked and underpaid state workers.

Just two days after the rallies, the Florida Senate announced a proposed budget that includes a much needed 3% across-the-board pay raise for state employees, the first such raise in recent memory. The Senate’s plan also includes full funding to cover the cost of rising state employee health insurance into the future. That same day, the House released their version of the budget which also included raises for state workers in the way of $1,800 more annually for those making less than $51,800 a year. 

“Our dedicated state employees spoke out to remind our legislators who it is that makes this state tick and those voices have been heard," said AFSCME Florida President Vicki Hall. "We're thrilled that the hard work our members do daily is finally being recognized by both chambers of the Florida Legislature."

“The fact that we are seeing an across the board pay raise being discussed is crucial for our members” added Ketha Otis, a Vocational Rehabilitation Technician with the Department of Education and Treasurer of AFSCME Florida. “Regardless of whether you are a new employee or a veteran employee, a raise for all our employees in the State of Florida is long overdue.”

Senator Bill Montford of Tallahassee, who represents 25,000 state workers in his district, made clear that raises for state workers were a priority for him this session. "It's a good day for Florida when it recognizes the value of its state employees,” he said upon release of the proposed plans. 

Felicia Bell, a child protective investigator with the Department of Children and Families, traveled from Orlando to Tampa to speak at Tuesday’s rally which took place outside a DCF regional office. “When workers stand together and fight, we win,” she said. “This truth could not be more clear from what we have seen in recent weeks as we have stood up and spoke out on the crisis in state employee pay.”

State workers cautiously praised the proposed raises as the focus now turns to the House and Senate as they begin their Budget Conference to iron out a final plan to present to Governor DeSantis for approval. 

Click Here for More Photos of AFSCME Florida's State Worker Rallies