Actions Speak Louder Than Words in Rebuilding Florida Health Care Local

This summer, the members of AFSCME Local 1363 decided it was time to breathe new life into their union. They came together to plot a new path forward so they could strengthen AFSCME’s voice for the workers within Miami-Dade County’s Jackson Health System and improve services to the community.

But with the congressional attacks on Obamacare injecting extreme uncertainty into our health care system, the plan to rebuild the local would be put to the test during new contract negotiations.

Last week, two days of voting at more than two dozen hospitals, care centers and clinics showed members passed with flying colors.

“This contract is solid gold,” said Karen Knight, a Local 1363 member who helped staff a voting location at Jackson Memorial Hospital. “With this we are saving jobs, we are showing that every member has a voice in this union and that AFSCME is here to stay.”

The new contract, approved with 94 percent of the vote, will raise all wages to a minimum of $11 an hour, provide a 2 percent raise for those already over that rate and strengthen many other items, from the uniform allowance to training pay. Also, jobs were protected by banning the contracting and subcontracting of bargaining unit positions for the duration of the three-year contract.

Jorge Gonzalez Jr. said he voted yes on the contract because it “provides all of us with a stronger union, stronger protections and a share in the economic growth happening all around us.” 

Local 1363 has organized 319 members since the summer, including 171 new members and more than a dozen new PEOPLE contributors during the ratification vote itself.

“The new members prove we are moving in the right direction,” said member Jack Brown.

One of those new members is Mary Bush, who said she signed up because the contract shows all she has been hearing is not just empty talk.

“It was time,” Bush said. “I’ve been seeing a lot more, hearing a lot more but this really proves that this is something I need to be part of.”

“This union is all about empowering us, the members, to be the best we can and to be rewarded for the hard work we do,” said Maria Sentos, echoed the feelings of many of her fellow members in the reborn AFSCME Local 1363.