CSEA retiree members in Florida recently met to hear updates on our union and issues facing retirees.
That includes the U.S. Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which could jeopardize retirement security if enough of our working brothers and sisters stop paying dues.
Our union works to protect our pensions and health care. If we lose power and resources, we may not be able to safeguard you against attacks to your retirement security.
Retirees who collect pensions through the New York State Retirement System generate nearly $12 billion in economic activity, including thousands of our members who bring secure pensions and strong health benefits to the Sunshine State and many other places after retirement.
“Just like everywhere, retirees play an important role in Florida’s economy,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said. “Under right-to-work, anti-union groups are trying to take our retirement security away from us, and all you have worked for could be gone in an instant.”
While New Yorkers are grappling with the unfamiliarity of right-to-work, Florida retirees and working people in Florida have been facing such laws for years.
While many public-sector workers in Florida are unionized, the unions’ power and resources are often limited.
Florida State East Retiree Local member David Harrison, who had served as the SUNY Albany Local president before retiring, saw the chilling effects of right-to-work in his new community.
“In New York, we have plenty of resources, but the unions here didn’t have many resources [to help the workers],” he said. “Many (working) people in Florida have two or three jobs that are all part time and don’t have benefits. When people have tried to organize (generally with private-sector employers), they were fired.”
While right-to-work makes our job more challenging, we can still succeed if we stand together.
Bill Sauer, president, Florida Alliance of Retired Americans, said that because of that state’s right-to-work laws, having a good political plan is essential for working people and retirees, who regularly lobby elected officials.
“We’ve been able to not only survive, but grow,” he said. “We keep the pressure on the politicians. We try to educate them. If they don’t eventually support us, we help them [leave elective office].”
Donohue urged members to stand together against anti-union groups.
“This attack is an attack on labor and they are trying to put us out of business,” he said. “Nobody gives us anything you’re not willing to fight for. Get involved in our union. Make sure you and your opinions are heard. Together, we can make a difference.”