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Tampa rallies against union-busting bill on International Workers Day

By Simon Rowe

Tampa workers are standing up for their unions.

Tampa, FL – On Sunday April 30, 40 people protested outside the Hillsborough School Employees Federation union hall against the recent passage of union-busting legislation aimed at public sector workers and to mark International Workers Day.

The week before, the Florida House passed HB 1445, which will create a requirement for public-sector unions to have a membership rate of 60%. After Governor Rob DeSantis signs the bill into law, public sector unions have one year to meet this requirement or be decertified. Several of the groups represented were public-sector unions including the Hillsborough County Teachers Association, the University of South Florida Graduate Assistants Union, and AFSCME Local 3342.

AFSCME Local 3342 President Robert Chapman promised, “DeSantis and his cronies think they've got the fix in on our unions, they don't realize they're sitting on a powder keg. Labor is going to fight back and reclaim the place it held decades ago.”

Another reason the bill was nicknamed the union-busting bill on protesters’ signs is its removal of automatic dues deduction from paychecks. This is another barrier to raising union membership to 60%. However, Hillsborough County Teacher’s Association vowed to fight to keep their members and sign up more.

Also speaking at the event was Chrisley Carpio, a recently fired USF employee and member of the Tampa 5, who are facing felony charges stemming from a police attack on a protest held at the University of South Florida on March 6.

Carpio stated, “HB 1445 is only one part of the outrageous agenda that the Florida GOP has enacted this legislative session. I was arrested and charged for daring to stand in the way of another reactionary bill, HB 999, which threatens to do away with diversity programs, ethnic studies and multicultural student organizations on campus. The common thread here is that DeSantis wants to turn the clock back 70, 80 years, spitting directly in the face of millions of Floridians.”

Other groups speaking included Tampa Students for a Democratic Society, Tampa Bay Community Action Committee, and the Tampa district of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization who spoke out against the unjust imprisonment of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab.

Demonstration attendees vowed to continue the fight to rekindle the labor movement in the face of all-out attacks from the state.

#TampaFL #May1