Florida NAACP, big labor unite to push ‘moral’ legislative agenda

Published: Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM.

“Our state should no longer abide by the atrocities wreaked on the poor, the young, the working-class, people of color and countless other constituencies,” Adora Obi Nweze, president of the NAACP Florida State Conference, said in a previously released statement.

The rally included the Florida AFL-CIO, the Florida SEIU and the state chapter of AFSCME. Speakers recognized the unions, to enthusiastic applause, though no sign of organized labor groups were visible in the crowd of several hundred.

Moral Mondays began during the 2013 North Carolina legislative session and have since spread to other state capitols in the Southeast.

The movement coincides with a larger, national strategy outlined by the AFL-CIO during its national conference last year. Partnerships with social justice groups and so-called worker centers, such as Orlando’s Jobs with Justice, are now viewed as lifelines against historically low private-sector membership.

“The labor movement cannot be confined within bargaining units defined by government agencies or limited to workplaces where a majority of employees vote “Yes” in the face of a ruthless campaign by their employer to deny them representation,” states a newly adopted AFL-CIO resolution. 

Expanding union membership in the Southeast is viewed by the AFL-CIO as both an area for growth and a worst-case scenario. With the exception of Alabama, Florida’s unionized labor force ranks highest in the Southeast — at just 5.6 percent.

“Organize the South, that’s my mantra,” MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina AFL-CIO, said during a Feb. 17 panelist discussion invoking Moral Mondays, fast food strikes and unionization strategies. “It’s what I say over and over again because I believe that for the labor movement and worker justice, it is organize the South or die.”

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