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Thousands of Florida state workers call for pay raise to keep up with cost of living

'These employees need a better raise'
Posted at 4:46 PM, Nov 08, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. --- About 49,000 state workers said they couldn't go another year without a raise on Friday. The cost of living and inflation is getting too expensive, their union alleged.

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, was negotiating a new contract and pay bump with the state. The union was looking for a five percent pay increase and a two percent cost of living boost for its employees working across Florida’s bureaucracy.

“Convey to the governor or the legislature— whoever,” said Hector Ramos, AFSCME Chief Negotiator. “We cannot go another year without an increase.”

The price tag is about $156 million to the state budget. The union suggested Florida can afford it considering the governor has already asked for $600 million to increase starting teacher pay to more than $47,000. That’s a higher wage than most of the AFSCME members.

“They’re making $12 an hour," said Vicki Hall, AFSCME Florida President. "That’s a slap in the face. These employees need a better raise."

Ketha Otis has worked for the state for nearly four decades. The vocational rehab technician with Florida’s Department of Education is entering her third year without a boost.

She said she’s had to rely on family and cut costs to get by.

“This is the way that we’ve been surviving, denying ourselves the pleasures of life in order to continue to work,” Otis said. “It is us that makes the state work. If not for us, the state wouldn’t be anything.”

State negotiators said they’d consider the request but declined further comment.

Union reps were pretty certain Florida would reject the offer, saying they’d likely have to take the raise to lawmakers in committee.

AFSCME expected to know more before December 14.