TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-- To keep up with the cost of living and inflation, a state employee of near four decades, Ketha Otis has compromised. She has been shutting off luxuries like cable and relying on family for costs like her son’s extracurricular activities.
“This is the way that we’ve been surviving by denying ourselves the pleasures of life," Otis said.
Her union AFSCME is bargaining with the state for a 5% pay increase and 2% cost of living bump.
“Convey to the governor or the legislature— whoever— we cannot go another year without an increase," said AFSCME chief negotiator Hector Ramos.
The cost would be about $156 million. Not much says the union, compared to what the governor wants for teachers which is $600 million to bump starting pay for educators to more than $47,000.
“They’re making $12 an hour. That’s a slap in the face. These employees need a better raise," said AFSCME Florida President Vicki Hall.
In response, the state team didn’t say much beyond this: “We’ll consider it and the comments that you made.”
Union reps were pretty certain Florida would reject the offer, saying they’d likely have to take the raise to lawmakers in committee. Union leaders said they planned to hold legislators’ feet to the fire, demanding change.
“It’s disheartening," Otis said. “We are sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Representatives for the state declined to comment as negotiations continue. Union officials expected to hear back on their proposal before December 14.