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Union Fights For State Worker Pay Raises

Small grocery list presented by Stacy Wein.
Blaise Gainey

Florida state workers haven’t gotten a pay raise since 2008. Now the public employee union is calling for one. But if state negotiators have their way, that won’t happen without the legislature stepping in.

During Tuesday’s bargaining session Attorney for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees of Florida Stacy Wein used a grocery list to explain why the raise is needed:

"In 2008 these items--bread, potatoes, milk, eggs, toilet paper, coffee cost $54. In 2019, those same items are $70.18. That’s a 32% increase," Wein said.

Wein says many state workers have multiple jobs to make a living wage. Some qualify for public assistance. Wein described a woman who works for the Agency for Health Care Administration.

"She’s been working for the state for 12 years. She’s a single parent of three. She can’t pay for any extracurricular activities for her kids. She can’t buy them new shoes when they grow out of them. She’s also looking for another job. She’s also trying to get on food stamps," explains Wein.

AFSCME wants a 7% increase for the nearly 50,000 state workers it represents. The state hasn’t offered any additional money during the bargaining sessions.

Sen. Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee) is entering his last lawmaking session and a state worker pay raise is on his bucket list. He’s filed a bill that would authorize annual cost of living adjustment to base rates for state workers beginning in 2021.