More than a thousand state, county and municipal employees came unannounced, angry and chanting at the Florida Capitol Tuesday.
The employees are facing pay cuts of three to five percent, and being forced for the first time to contribute to their pensions
“They’re contemplating five percent from my income. I can’t live like that,” said Paula Miller of Tampa.
Many pointed out that they are already the working poor, and about to get even more so.
“It’s everything, food. You’re taking from that for my pension in the future, and I might not have a future," said Cardidid Rodriguez of Miami.
Some sang “We shall overcome some day.” And while they hope to overcome eventually....this may not be that day.
The thousand or so people who traveled to protest are a far cry from the huge crowds in Wisconsin. And, so far, lawmakers aren’t blinking.
A billion dollars in salary cuts and pension contributions are in both the House and Senate Budgets, and Governor Rick Scott is holding out for even more. “I’m driving down the cost of state government," he said.
Juan Cruz, a city of Miami mechanic, resents what he calls political payback. “we have Republicans against the unions because they donate more money to Democrats. I am a Republican. I am also a union member. I am getting trampled over.”
Lawmakers must agree on a spending plan by May 6th.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that organized Tuesday’s event, says it gave out a thousand tee shirts with the words “The public is my special interest.” They ran out of the shirts before everyone got one.