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

The lobbyists workers and unions turn to for help in the state Capitol.

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.

The coronavirus pandemic may have tamped down plans for block parties, parades and other crowded celebrations, but that doesn’t mean the holiday weekend is a total loss.

Labor Day is 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 health care 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, John Jenkins, John Kazanjian, Kenneth Kopczynski, Jeffrey Marano, Tammy Marcus, Mike McHale, Matthew Puckett, Steve Slade, William Smith and Stephanie Webster.

When the Florida PBA needs an extra hand dealing with the Legislature, they turn to Brian Ballard and Mat Forrest of Ballard Partners and 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 Wayne Bernoska, the group’s president and CEO; Gilbert Marsh, the group’s secretary and treasurer; and Rocco Salvatori, the association’s vice president.

Among the bills affecting police and firefighters in the 2020 Legislative Session was one creating a grant program to help mitigate firefighters’ exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. The legislation was a priority for Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who doubles as the State Fire Marshal, and it earned the Governor’s approval.

One can’t talk about labor issues without broaching the topic 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 as the 2021 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 Rubin Turnbull & Associates in its corner, including Bill Rubin, Heather Turnbull, Melissa Akeson, Erica Chanti and Christopher Finkbeiner.

Representing 19,000 workers across the state, SEIU United Healthcare Workers represents more than 25,000 health care 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 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. 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, Catherine Boehme, Tina Dunbar, Stephanie Kunkel, Yale Olenick, Eric Riley, and Kevin Watson are watching out for Florida’s teachers.

And when the FEA needs an extra hand, it turns to Jonathan Kilman, Carlos CruzCesar Fernandez, and Elnatan Rudolph of Converge Government Affairs of Florida and Ron Meyer at Florida Legislative Associates.

To the many Florida politicos knee deep in the 2020 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 every day throughout American history, the United States — and Florida — would never have become the prosperous economic powerhouse it’s been for decades and will be again when the pandemic subsides.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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