HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – The Florida State Legislative Board invited two Florida state politicians to address attendees at the August regional meeting. While there, both pledged to continue their advocacy for labor while thanking members for their support.
State Rep. Joe Geller (D – Dist. 100) said that an inhospitable political climate at the moment in the Florida Legislature won’t deter him from fighting against anti-labor policies in Tallahassee.
“I’m one of the people in Tallahassee who doesn’t make any bones about where I stand,” he said at the Aug. 6 lunch break. “I’m pro-union. I’m pro-labor. I stand with working men and women because working men and women are who built this country.”
Florida state Rep. Joe Geller (D – Dist. 100) delivers his speech Aug. 6 during the Hollywood, Fla., regional meeting as TD Vice President John England applauds at right.
Geller said better wages, a support system for the impoverished, improved workplace safety and aid to public schools came as a result of the labor movement’s efforts.
“Labor is what made this country what it is today, and we all need to stand together with the labor movement, and I always will,” he said.
Geller, a former mayor and former Miami-Dade County Democratic Party chairman, said it’s easy to identify those who oppose labor – they constantly look to cut those things that unions have clawed and fought to achieve.
“There is no mistake that there is an assault on the rights of working men and women around our country and right here in this state. We’ve got to stand up and all stand together — link our arms together as men and women and stand for the rights for working people, especially to organize and be treated fairly,” he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision in June is one example of this assault, and things will need to be done legislatively to fix the damage done by the decision as well as to further protect workers.
“If we don’t stand with each other, we’re not going to be able to withstand this right-wing assault on working men and women that happens in so many ways,” Geller said. “Don’t feel like you’re alone. There’s plenty of us out there who see what they’re trying to do and won’t stand for it.
“We will not quietly go along with these plans to undermine working men and women and their chosen labor organizations. We’re here to fight, and we need everybody to stand together and fight this fall in the most important mid-term election that this country has ever seen.”
State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D – Dist. 37) began his speech at the Aug. 7 opening session with a message of thanks to members.
“Thank you for staying active in your union, staying informed, for volunteering, for voting,” Rodriguez said.
At the state level in Florida, he said legislation to improve safety conditions for rail workers and bus operators is a priority, but it’s been difficult to make progress.
“I wish there was more that we could do in our current political climate to move the needle,” Rodriguez said. “In the Legislature, it’s mainly just been about holding the line against some of the attacks that Mr. Brodar had been talking about.”
TD President John Previsich shakes Florida state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez’s hand after Rodriguez addressed the regional meeting on Aug. 7.
SMART Transportation Division General Counsel Kevin Brodar spoke immediately before Rodriguez about the Janus decision.
Rodriguez’s mother was a union nurse, and he saw the benefits that came from union membership growing up and then later as a labor attorney when cases involving worker safety and workers’ rights came up.
But there are deep-pocketed interests that aren’t even allowing labor-related issues to be placed on the Legislature’s agenda, Rodriguez said.
“We really need to change the political culture, the political climate,” he said.
Geller and Rodriguez both took time to acknowledge the work of Florida State Legislative Director Andres Trujillo, who, along with Legislative Vice Chairperson Eduardo Guillen and Local 1138 Secretary & Treasurer Terry Hobbs, served as the local committee for the meeting at the Hilton Diplomat Resort.
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich foresees a very different scenario when the next round of national rail negotiations starts in 2019, he told the audience at the closing session of the TD Regional Meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 8.
“When we entered into the last round, you’ll recall that the railroad business was down … the railroads were claiming they were losing money” Previsich said. “That situation is now entirely different.”
SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich responds to members' submitted questions during the closing session of the third and final day of the TD Regional Meeting at the Hilton Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Fla., on Aug. 8.
Carriers have been reaping record profits and increased revenue and received the gift of a corporate tax reduction from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed last year. But instead of reinvesting their gains in their infrastructure or rewarding their workforce, rail carriers have used it to buy back stocks to boost their share prices.
That means with the national rail agreement open for negotiations in late 2019, the carriers will not get to recycle the economic argument, Previsich said.
“We will not tolerate in negotiations any claim for lack of revenue, or for lack of available money to provide a decent increase to our membership in the face of record stock buybacks that enrich a select few,” Previsich said. “We won’t stand for it. It’s an important time, given the political climate, given the economic climate, that we now reap what we’ve earned.”
Previsich also touched upon the situation in Texas, where Kansas City Southern (KCS) started early last month the practice of allowing foreign rail crews to cross into the United States at the Laredo border crossing and travel nine miles into our country before replacing them with American workers.
“The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) thus far has taken absolutely no action to stop this practice,” Previsich said. “FRA has an obligation to ensure the safety of American workers and the American public. Their refusal to live up to that obligation is not acceptable. On this matter, FRA is allowing the railroads to self-regulate and self-certify without oversight.” He told attendees at the meeting that the union will do “anything and everything” to attack FRA’s lack of responsibility on the issue.
“We deem it to be unsafe, we deem it to be a threat to our jobs,” Previsich said. “We are not going to let them (FRA) stand aside while a Class I carrier allows foreign crews to cross the border and steal our jobs while jeopardizing the safety of our members and the general public.” He called for members to prepare to act to put the pressure on when and where it is needed.
“When that time comes, we’re going to let you know,” he said. “We want you to do everything you can to ensure that each and every member delivers a strong and powerful message to Washington.”
Many of the workshop presentations made at the Seattle Regional Meeting that took place July 2 to 4, 2018, are now available by following the links below. The presentations are in PDF form, so Adobe Acrobat Reader or a web browser plug-in that handles the format will be necessary to view the files.
Attendees will be picked up from the Hilton Diplomat at 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, and taken into the legendary Florida swamp, where they will experience an hour-long airboat ride, an alligator/wildlife nature show and have a chance to explore the natural beauty of the Everglades via a walking trail. The guided tour includes a buffet BBQ lunch and attendees will arrive back at the hotel at approximately 2:45 p.m. Guests are advised to wear comfortable clothes and shoes with non-slip soles. Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat are recommended for protection from the sun as is a camera to capture pictures of the wild beauty. Earplugs will be provided for the airboat ride.
Day 2 (August 6): Water tour of the ‘Venice of America’ on the Intracoastal Waterway
A leisurely three-hour cruise held Monday, August 6, will provide our group with the opportunity to see the waterways, beautiful homes of the rich and famous, as well as some of their amazing yachts! Attendees will simply walk outside the Diplomat Resort and cross the walkway that takes you over the road to the Intracoastal Waterway, where a private chartered water taxi will be docked and waiting.
Attendees will be picked up at 10 a.m. at the Intracoastal Waterway, and the water taxi will return to the hotel by 1:30 p.m. A catered lunch will be provided aboard the ship, which has a restroom and numerous covered observation areas.
Attendees will be picked up from the Westin Hotel downtown at 8:15 a.m. Sunday, July 1, and taken to Edmunds, where they will board a ship onto Puget Sound.
On the sound, there are three resident orca pods and there will a chance of seeing humpback whales, gray and minke whales, porpoises, seals and sea lions. The tour includes a boxed lunch and attendees will be back at the hotel by 3:30 p.m. Guests are advised to bring a light jacket in case it’s chilly on the sound.
Day 2 (July 2): Seattle city tour
Board a luxury motor coach to see the Emerald City’s highlights! Guests will enjoy an informative tour of the city from a Seattle perspective, hearing history and interesting stories about this unique metropolis. The tour begins at 9 a.m. in the downtown core, including the chance to explore Chihuly Gardens and Glass in Seattle Center, the Pike Place Market and the Olympic Sculpture Park before the tour ends at the Ballard Locks.
Guests will then have the opportunity to have lunch on their own and to do some shopping in the city’s Ballard neighborhood. Overlooking Salmon Bay in the city’s northwest, the neighborhood once was home to lumber and shingle mills but now has a thriving commercial district with locally owned restaurants and boutiques.
SMART TD has opened paper and online registration for the 2018 regional meetings located in Seattle, July 2 – 4, and in Hollywood, Fla., Aug. 6 – 8.
A completed registration form and payment must be received by no later than June 22, 2018, to be considered pre-registered for the Seattle meeting and July 27, 2018, for the Hollywood meeting. The price for registration for pre-registered guests is $150 per guest. Registration for children ages 11 and under is complimentary. Registrations received after the registration deadlines listed above will be charged an on-site registration fee of $200. Additional fees apply for tours.
The registration fee covers all workshop materials, a welcome reception, three lunches and one evening meal. Those wishing to attend only the workshops do not need to register or pay the $150 fee.
You may cancel your meeting registration 10 days prior to the first day of the meetings without penalty. Call the Transportation Division at 216-228-9400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org immediately regarding changes or cancellations to your registration.
Those planning on attending a regional meeting may register online or by filling out and printing the mail-in form and sending it and your payment in to SMART TD headquarters at SMART TD Regional Meeting, 24950 Country Club Blvd., Ste. 340, North Olmsted, OH 44070. Checks should be made payable to SMART Transportation Division. Please do not send cash.
Click here for more information on the Seattle Regional Meeting.