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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida unions unite with Senate vote on parent trigger the latest test

8

March

The expected Senate vote on Thursday over giving parents the right to order turn-around programs at their struggling schools is less about parents and more about undercutting the role of Florida’s powerful teacher’s unions, say labor organizers.

After numerous assaults on them last year, they have banded together this year in a united front to persuade legislators — mainly the fragile majority in the Senate — to stop efforts to undercut the unions.

The vote count on the so-called parent trigger bill appeared too close for its sponsors to call late Wednesday. But the alliance in opposition to it was clear.

Unions, which previously had worked independently to pursue their agendas, have locked arms in an election-year strategy to reward their friends and penalize enemies on a handful of union-breaking proposals this year.

"Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature have done more to unify the Florida labor movement in the state of Florida than anybody else could have ever done,’’ said Andy Ford, president of the Florida Education Association, which represents school teachers.

The alliance extends to police, fire, nurses and other public safety workers, said Robert Suarez of Miami, vice president of the Florida Professional Firefighters.

“We jeopardize a lot of the security that we typically have among our supporters by building these coalitions,’’ Suarez said. “But we’re much stronger in representing the working class people if labor unions coordinate more together.” Keep reading.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 8, 2012 9:27am]

    

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