New contract for Miami solid waste workers highlights the union difference

Despite Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ramming extreme union-busting legislation through the state legislature last year, AFSCME Florida members working at Miami’s solid waste department recently ratified a new three-year contract with the city that proves the power of collective action.

The bill, S.B. 256, requires most public sector unions to maintain 60 percent dues payment rates, requires anti-union language to be added to membership cards, outlaws their right to receive dues via paycheck deductions, requires them to undertake costly auditing procedures, and more provisions aimed at undermining the rights of union members.

AFSCME Local 871 members refused to back down and resolved to retain their union through these attacks. They signed and re-signed every new card and were one of the first locals to pass the law’s 60 percent membership threshold. As of last week, nearly 85 percent of the workers in Local 871’s bargaining unit are AFSCME members.

And that dedication paid off: Their new contract is retroactive to October 2023 and maintains pension and health care costs, strengthens their voice on the job, and delivers an 18 percent wage increase over the life of the agreement. Other financial wins include a provision that almost doubles shift differential pay and language that establishes a new top pay grade that’s five percent higher above the previous highest level.

“The past few years have seen public service workers come under attack, but this contract shows that when you stand up and fight for what is right, you are going to win more times than not,” said Joe Simmons Jr., a waste equipment operator and president of Local 871. “Our governor and his yes men in the legislature thought that when they passed the most anti-union, anti-worker legislation in Florida history…that we would just sit down and shut up. But they don’t have the sense God gave Adam because every time they say they support workers, stand up for families and want to give people a shot at the American dream, they are lying through their teeth.”


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