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Local 1591 is Fighting Back and Growing!

As part of our Union’s campaign to fight back against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) union-busting legislation, SB256/HB1445, Local 1591-Broward County, FL, President/Business Agent April Williams and Financial Secretary Treasurer Joanne Penn hit the ground running in signing up new members. Local 1591 is one of the few non-transit public sector units in the ATU, representing more than 1,000 county government workers, tax specialists, airport customer service representatives, engineers, accountants, behavioral health specialists, and library workers, among others, across just under a hundred locations scattered throughout Broward County. 


30 New Members in Four Days

Despite the efforts of union busters in Florida, SB 256/HB1445 woke up a sleeping giant. In mid-July, Sisters Williams and Penn, along with International staff, made the rounds and signed up 30 members in just four days, doubling the Local’s density in one location alone.
Five even stepped up further to build their Local and become shop stewards. Building the Local this way gives them the strength they need for the fights now and in the years to come. 

Afterward, the Local charted how many members they had compared to non-members location by location. In doing this, the Local can easily identify where to put boots on the ground and map out their visits for their campaign. While this can be a tedious task, it’s vital in internal organizing. For example, there are 37 libraries alone, with nearly a third of the unit. Therefore, it’s critical to know how many members there are at each compared to non-members to plan a circuit of visits ahead of time and create goals. Along with having solid lists and a communications infrastructure, Local 1591 is well on its way to increasing its density. 

What was common among new members signing up was the gratitude they had for the Local leaders’ visibility and genuine interest in their working conditions. Signing new members up in the breakrooms of the various locations allowed members to not just be seen but also heard when it comes to their concerns and the changes, they want to make their workplaces better. One example included a member whose manager had a “new sheriff in town” attitude and implored them not to speak up about carrying collected cash around their workplace without security as a safety issue. President/Business Agent Williams laid into an HR manager who came in to say hello about it, and within just 30 minutes, the issue was then resolved, to the joy of the workers who openly talked about it, including those who had just signed up. That’s just one example of the impact of visibility and pushing back on bad workplace conditions. 


“I’m Sticking With My Union”

Upon signing up, members got updates about the state of SB 256/HB1445, the Local’s text messaging system, and where to go if they have any questions. They also received ATU Florida’s “I’m Sticking With My Union” buttons, copies of the In Transit magazine, and ATU t-shirts. Some members of other unions even came by in envy of the ATU’s visibility and wish theirs were doing the same! While it may not seem like a lot numbers-wise in the grand scheme of things, it’s a big leap forward in making our Local 1591 stronger than it was before. Our Local 1591 is leading the way in organizing its open shop and fighting back in Florida!