Issued April 26, 2023
WASHINGTON, DC – Service Employees International Union President Mary Kay Henry released the following statement today in response to Florida lawmakers passing SB 256, a bill targeting labor unions representing the state’s public sector workers.
“SEIU’s 2 million members stand with workers and union members across race, occupation and political affiliation in Florida in denouncing the passage of SB 256. This harmful legislation is another direct attack on working families by out-of-touch, extremist politicians that comes straight from Governor DeSantis’ wishlist. While we don’t hold out hope for a veto, we will make sure he hears us at the voting booth if he signs this anti-worker bill.
Florida’s Republican leaders are threatening the livelihoods of Florida’s public service workers – including SEIU members in healthcare, public schools, and higher education – and others who provide essential services to their communities ranging from public sanitation to emergency response.
With this ALEC-inspired bill, lawmakers have further demonstrated that they are willing to take away the basic freedom of working people to exercise their voices and join unions. Every worker should have the opportunity to join a union no matter what they look like, what they do for a living, or how they vote. It should be up to workers – not politicians – on how they want to organize and pay their union dues.
The politicians who passed this divisive bill are afraid of the prospect of workers empowered in their unions to negotiate for living wages, benefits, and safe working conditions. Instead of advocating for the constituents they were elected to serve, they are actively undermining them by implementing so-called "Right-to-Work" provisions which create often insurmountable barriers to workers having power together in a union. This backward bill is an insult to families across Florida who are still struggling to recover from the economic devastation of the pandemic and rising costs for everyday goods and services.
SB 256 is just the latest in a string of attacks launched on working families by the DeSantis Administration, including attacks on our reproductive freedom and civil rights, especially for communities of color, immigrants, students, and LGBTQIA Floridians. While we’re outraged by the actions taken by the Florida legislature and Governor DeSantis, we recognize this as yet another example of how corporate-backed politicians in multiple states are rigging the rules against working people. We will continue to fight back by standing up and electing champions who will help us win unions for all workers, not just in Florida but in every state across the country.”