Labor Day is brought to you by these Florida lobbyists and political associations


The final days of summer are here.

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, the last hurrah before the fall. It’s a time for barbecues and beers, to spend a few days floating in the pool or relaxing on the deck.

But it’s also meant to be a chance to celebrate the American worker. First established in 1894, Labor Day was celebrated in industrial centers across the country. While labor unions may not hold as much clout in Florida, they are still present in every Floridian’s life.

They’re the police officers that walk the street, state employees who keep the trains running on time, the teachers and professors who help mold the minds of young Floridians and the healthcare workers who take care of us when we’re sick.

The Florida State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police was chartered in 1950, and currently serves 20,000 members in 100 local lodges across the state. The state FOP aims to promote and foster the enforcement of law and order.

When the Florida FOP needs a hand in the Legislature, they turn to Lisa Henning of Timmins Consulting.

The FOP isn’t the only organization looking out for Florida’s men and women in blue. The Florida Police Benevolent Association was established in 1972 and is an advocate for law enforcement and their families.

You’ll find Matt Puckett, the executive director, advocating on behalf of law enforcement officers in front of the Legislature. He’s joined by James Baiardi, Ernest George, Arthur Hoffman, Gene Johnson, John Kazanjian, Kenneth Kopczynski, Jeffrey Marano, Tammy Marcus, Mike McHale, John Rivera, Michael Roddy, William Smith and Steadman Stahl.

When the Florida PBA needs an extra hand dealing with the Legislature, they turn Gary Bradford at the Bradford Group.

When it comes to protecting the interests of Florida’s firefighters and EMS personnel, look no further than the Florida Professional Firefighters. Founded in 1944, the Florida association now has 150 local affiliates and more than 24,000 members. The organization has become known as one of the most effective and respected voices in the Capitol.

Screven Watson from Screven Watson & Associates has the firefighters’ back when they go before the Legislature. The association looks to George Marsh, the group’s secretary and treasurer; Rocco Salvatori, the association’s vice president; James Tolley, the group’s president; Michael Bellamy, VP of FPF’s 8th District; and Kurt Vroman, the group’s 9th District veep, for its legislative lobbying needs.

Among the bills affecting police and firefighters in the 2018 Legislative Session was a measure that would expand workers’ compensation benefits in cases of first responders suffering from mental health-related injuries, such as PTSD. After an emotional push in the Legislature, the bill was passed and signed by Gov. Rick Scott in late March.

Speaking of worker’s comp, there’s always a battle on the horizon for the state’s labor unions, so get ready to hear more from Florida’s them as 2019 Legislative Session approaches.

Florida AFL-CIO is among the state’s largest unions, and when it needs help in the legislature it turns to its director of politics and public policy, Rich Templin; while AFSCME Florida Council 79 has political director Jackie Carmona and the team at The Rubin Group in its corner, including Bill Rubin, Melissa Akeson, Amy Bisceglia, Erica Chanti, Christopher Finkbeiner and Heather Turnbull.

Representing 19,000 workers across the state, SEIU United Healthcare Workers represents more than 25,000 healthcare workers, from nurses to clerical employees and everyone in between working in the hospital and nursing home industry. When it needs results in the Legislature, it calls PinPoint Results and Robert Beck, Bryan Cherry and Tanya Jackson take it from there.

And before you pop open your next beer, make sure to thank an educator this weekend. They’re working their hardest to shape the next generation of great Floridians. And to do that to the best of their ability, many turn to the Florida Education Association to advance their causes.

The statewide association represents more than 140,000 teachers and school support professionals in the state. While Florida teachers are shaping the minds of young Floridians, RonBilbaoCatherine BoehmeTina Dunbar, Luke FlyntFedrick IngramStephanie Kunkel, Joanne McCallEric RileyLynda RussellJacqueline SistoKevin Watson and Jeff Wright are watching out for Florida’s teachers.

And when the FEA needs an extra hand, it turns to Albert Balido and Edgar Fernandez of Anfield Consulting and Ron Meyer at Florida Legislative Associates.

To the many Florida politicos knee deep in the 2018 elections, 16-hour work days every day of the week isn’t a concept, it’s their current reality. But it wasn’t that long ago when that was expected of every American worker.

While the politics of labor have certainly shifted over the 124 years since Labor Day became a federal holiday, it’s important to remember what the holiday is all about. Without the hardworking men and women who clocked in everyday throughout American history, the United States — and Florida — would never have become the prosperous economic powerhouse it is today.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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