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Protester tapes pro-union poster onto vehicle during a caravan demonstration in Tallahassee on May 17, 2020. Photo by Jason Delgado.

America in Crisis

Nation’s largest labor group caravans around Capitol, calls for investment in workers

The group staged caravan demonstrations across the nation in support of the HEROES Act.

Members of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) caravanned around the Florida Capitol on Wednesday, calling for more government help for frontline workers and workers of color.

“As millions of essential workers continue to put themselves in harm’s way to serve their communities and with even more set to rejoin the workforce, it is imperative that working people have proper safety on the job and economic protection,” said Florida AFL-CIO Communications Director Michael Newberger. “Economic justice is racial justice. Working people are calling for an end to police brutality and equity on the job for workers of color.”

The group of roughly 25 travelled by car from Governor’s Square Mall to the Florida Capitol, where they circled the building and shared their “five economic essentials.”

That includes the prioritization of worker safety, protections for pension checks, sustained funding for the postal service and public schools, the expansion of healthcare insurance to all workers and an investment in infrastructure.

Florida AFL – CIO Communications Director Michael Newberger lays out America’s Five Economic Essentials to the media in front of the Florida Capitol Building on May 17, 2020. Photo by Jason Delgado.

Newberger acknowledged their call to action comes at a cost and arrives at a time marked by budget shortfalls. He added, however, that relief comes through a proper prioritization of issues.

“We are having some economic issues at every corner, but we are here to put workers first,” Newberger said. “These are things that will in the long term and short term benefit our economy. We need to make sure that our workers are being protected on the job and our state and local governments are being funded.”

Many of the vehicles in the caravan featured pro-union posters and art, as well as Black Lives Matter signs.

Daniel Thomas, a union member and five-year veteran of the organization, said Black Lives Matter and the Five Economic essentials go hand in hand.

“Workers rights are human rights,” Thomas said. “Both of the movements can be intertwined. We think this is a time of action in our country and this issue is important, black lives matter is important and now is the time to let our voices be heard.”

The national organization with more than 100,000 members staged caravan demonstrations across the state including in Tampa, Jacksonville and Miami to call all governments to action and demonstrate additional support for the HEROES Act.

“We want the attention of our local, state and federal government,” Thomas said. “All of them have a role to play in this. There are steps that our local governments can take as well as our state government to make sure workers are protected.”

The Heroes Act comes after millions of Americans received relief checks from the federal government in March through the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.

If passed by the Republican controlled U.S. Senate, the HEROES Act will provide roughly $3 trillion to American families.

The measure is considered to be more generous and encompassing for individual workers and students.

Written By

Jason Delgado covers news out of the state capital for Florida Politics. After a stint with the U.S. Army, Jason attended the University of Central Florida where he studied American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. Throw him a line at jason@floridapolitics.com or on Twitter at @JasonDelgadoFL.

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