Worker Power! Just 2 Days After State Workers Rally, Senate Proposes 3% Pay Raise

It's been a big week for embattled state workers in Florida. Just two days after hundreds of overworked and fired up state employees held simultaneous rallies in four cities demanding a raise and recognition in the Florida State Budget, the Florida Senate announced a proposed budget that includes a much needed 3% across-the-board pay raise for state employees.

"Our dedicated state employees raised their voices 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 and incorporated into the Senate Budget." 

Florida's dedicated state workers do the crucial work of keeping our children safe, protecting our environment, and keeping our infrastructure functioning. Yet, 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 state services, state workers are fighting back.

"We are fed up," said Tallulah Thomas, a state employee at Chattahoochee State Hopital in Marianna. "To put so much of yourself into your work and still be treated like a second class's just painful." Thomas and dozens of other state employees were at the Capitol as part of a State Worker Day of Action on Tuesday that also brought hundreds of state workers out of their worksites in Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville to demand recognition and prioritization in the state budget.

State Representatives Loranne Ausley and Shevrin Jones joined state workers at the Capitol along with local elected officials who rallied with hundreds of workers across the state. That very afternoon, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Senate President Bill Galvano would include a  “meaningful” pay increase for state workers when it announces it's proposed budget. 

On Thursday, that promise was realized with the release of the Senate Budget proposal. In addition to a 3% raise, Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley included in the budget full funding to cover the cost of rising state employee health insurance. "Knowing that this cost will not be passed on to working families will help thousands of dedicated public service workers and their families sleep better at night" said AFSCME Florida's Political Director Jacqui Carmona

"It's a good day for Florida when it recognizes the value of its state employees," said Sen. Bill Montford of Tallahassee who represents 25,000 state workers in his district and has made a raise for state workers a priority this session. State workers cautiously praised the move on AFSCME Florida's Facebook page Thuesday evening even as many noted that it is still not enough to cover the rising cost of living. AFSCME's state worker bargaining committee originally proposed a 5% pay increase in contract negotiations in November and a 2% cost of living allowance. Now the suspense turns to the State House as we anxiously await the release its proposed spending plan. Stay Tuned.

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