The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the nation’s largest federal workers’ union, is backing U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist for Governor, the group announced Thursday.
The endorsement comes the same day Crist’s campaign announced hiring a veteran labor organizer who had previously held a key role on the Biden for President campaign focused on the labor vote.
Carols Carrillo, former Biden for President Labor & Veterans Vote Director, will join the Crist team as a senior advisor on labor. The Mexico native has 30 years of experience in labor organizing and working on political campaigns, the Crist campaign said. He also worked on President Barack Obama‘s campaign in 2008 as a field director for the labor program and is credited with flipping North Carolina blue. Carrillo’s hiring — and the union endorsement — underscores Crist’s commitment to working families, his campaign said.
“I am thrilled to welcome Carlos to our team,” Crist said. “The hundreds of thousands of working families who call the Sunshine State home deserve to have their voices heard and a Governor who will fight alongside them for the rights, pay, and quality of life they deserve. That’s why I’m running for Governor.”
The union’s endorsement cited Crist’s long history of supporting Florida workers as he has served in numerous roles, even when he was a Republican.
The union represents some 294,000 active and retired federal employees in Florida, according to the Crist campaign. Nationally, AFGE bargains for 700,000 federal and Washington government workers.
“As former Governor and current Congressman for Florida’s 13th district, Charlie Crist has continuously shown his commitment to workers and the unions that represent them,” said David Mollett, the AFGE District 5 national vice president. “With a proven AFGE voting record and voting in favor of critical labor reform policies such as the PRO Act, Crist is the clear choice for working people in Florida.”
The PRO Act expands labor protections for workers who want to organize for collective bargaining. It also allows collective bargaining agreements to require all represented employees pay union dues. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives in March with all congressional Democrats except one voting for it. The act awaits a vote on the Senate floor.
Crist is giving up his seat in Congress in a bid to return to the Governor’s Mansion, this time as a Democrat. To challenge the Republican incumbent, Gov. Ron DeSantis, however, he must first win the Democratic Primary Election.
Crist said he was honored to win the endorsement of the union.
“Union workers are the backbone of this state and nation, and essential to Florida’s economy,” he said. “As we fight to build a Florida where hard-working, middle-class families have a seat at the table, AFGE’s support means our message is resonating with Floridians from Tampa Bay to the Panhandle, and all across our great state.”
Crist has also highlighted the endorsement of elected Democrats throughout the state to emphasize his mainstream appeal.
“This is only the beginning,” Crist said. “We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and restore the power of the people in 2022.”