FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(MIAMI — April 9, 2013) During a three-day visit to Tallahassee last week, Florida Public Employees President Robert Asencio met with several key lawmakers on two very specific issues and came back to Miami confident that his outreach had made a difference.
“Our first visit to Tallahassee in this legislative session has been a success, if only because we were able to open lines of communication with very receptive lawmakers who were happy to have more information on the matter,” Asencio said.
While there, Asencio was also a guest on Facing Florida With Michael Vasilinda, countering State Rep. Jason Brodeur on the FRS bill’s alleged merits.
And he met with other labor leaders, including Teamsters State Representative Jeff Edmiston and State Fraternal Order of Police President Jimmy Preston, who said he welcomed another ally in the battle for public employees.
“The Florida Fraternal Order of Police is working hard to protect the future of our law enforcement officers,” Preston said.
“These officers are your neighbors, friends and co-workers who put their lives on the line for their communities they serve, that we may live, work and raise our families without fear.”
The priority for Florida Public Employees, however, was to meet with representatives and senators about the Florida State Retirement bill, or “pension reform” bill, and the appropriations bill with the proposed law enforcement officer raise that excludes more than 16,000 corrections and probation officers from a much overdue pay adjustment in a state law enforcement raise in the 2014 budget.
That would have a negative impact not only on public employees, but on the public safety of the communities they live and work in.
Among those Asencio met with: Sen. Joe Negron, the chair of the appropriation committee, and Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, State Reps. Michelle Rehwinkle-Vasilinda, Kionne McGhee, David Richardson, Mark Danish, Mike Clelland, Jose Felix Diaz and Frank Artiles. He also met more than a dozen others for short chats and he will reach out to them again in coming weeks.
One of those is Sen. Anitere Flores, with whom he had a short chat before she left the capitol for the weekend. But the senator was visibly interested in the information and asked Florida Public Employees to email her details and follow up data on the disparity in pay adjustments for FDLE, FHP and wildlife officers when compared to corrections and probation officers.
“What we don’t realize is that while we have issues we are well versed in because they are important to us, some of our elected representatives do not have as much information and are happy to receive a little added data or context on some matters,” Asencio said. “They were somewhat or very receptive, depending on who we are talking about, and I feel confident that we have been able to provide the legislative leaders we met with an additional or wider perspective.”
While there were no promises, Florida Public Employees did get a commitment from some legislators to support our positions on the bills that could hurt public servants the most and look for ways to defeat or amend them.
“This was, overall, a successful trip,” Asencio said. “But we plan to return to the state capitol within the next couple of weeks to follow up on our conversations, have some new ones and bring even more information so that our leaders can make a more educated decision.”
Florida Public Employees is a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of more than 1.2 million state and municipal employees across the Sunshine State. It is the only organization that effectively promotes, protects and advances the agenda of public employees collectively.
“We are beginning to have an impact on our leaders. They know we are here and now they know that we are stakeholders in this process,” Asencio said.
For more information contact Robert Asencio at Robert@FloridaPublicEmployees.com
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