State negotiators are expected this week to return counteroffers to state workers asking for 5% pay raises.
Negotiators for the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union reached a consensus Tuesday on several minor disagreements. But the two sides remain at odds on major contract items, including the pay raise and guaranteed lunch breaks.
“In our caucus, we went through all of them,” said Mike Mattimore, the lead negotiator for DMS. “There’s some language in these articles that we can get closer to and have movement. There’s some things we still have concerns about.”
DMS’ counteroffers from as late as last week didn’t address workers’ salary demands, making Tuesday’s update a change of tone.
State workers received pay raises in 2013 and 2017, now nullified by inflation, argued AFSCME’s attorney, Stacy Ellen Wein.
Both years, workers making less than $40,000 per year received an extra $1,400 while those making more received $1,000 raises. But $41,400 in 2019 is now equivalent to less than $40,000 with the about 5% cumulative inflation since 2017.
Legislation in 2012 left state workers with fewer employer contributions to their pension program, prompting the 2013 pay raise.
“We’re asking for a sixth of what is going to be paid to the teachers, who deserve it, but we’re asking for about a sixth of what they’re going,” Wein said. “We need you to go back to the people who make these decisions and tell them that your workers, your employees, AFSCME, we need to pay a decent salary, to make decent livings, to feed our families and have a good life.”
“These people, they love their job, they work really hard, they love the state of Florida, they want to stay here and they want to do their years, and they want to have a decent salary and serve the state of Florida and see us all grow,” Wein said.
Both parties agreed to a three-year period and website links for evaluations and business travel allowance information in the contract. DMS also rescinded its proposal that supervisors not necessarily be taught workers’ rights if the state lacks adequate training time.
DMS and AFSCME will sit down with lawmakers on Jan. 23 in an attempt to settle outstanding contract disputes unless they reach an agreement.
Last month, the union staged a protest with two dozen state workers and supporters on the Historical Capitol steps. If the impasse continues, the AFSCME plans to take the protest statewide on Jan. 28 with the goal of 100 protesters each in the Capitol Rotunda, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa.