Florida Labor Day Celebrations Transformed into Day of Service

Union groups are holding caravans and “day of action” events across the state to bring attention to the needs of working families. Photo credit: Space Coast AFL-CIO.

TALLAHASSEE, FL – This Labor Day, Florida labor groups are holding events across the state to celebrate working people while also calling for change. From the Treasure Coast-Palm Beach region, to Miami and Northwest Florida, groups have organized car-caravans and other events to protest unfair and unhealthy working conditions.

Unions have had to nix their traditional annual picnic celebrations in light of the pandemic, and will focus on giving back to their communities. Barbara DeVane, secretary with the Big Bend Central Labor Chapter, said her group plans to collect supplies for Tallahassee’s homeless population.

“So this year of course, because it’s not safe to do a picnic, we’re doing a day of service,” said DeVane. “And we chose to give items that homeless veterans need; and then, we will package them up and take them to the agency that serves homeless veterans.”

DeVane said a day of service brings communities closer together, especially in times of need. She urged Congress to do the same by passing the HEROES Act, which includes some added protections for working families.

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Rich Templin, director of politics and public policy with the Florida AFL-CIO, said he thinks there really isn’t much to celebrate this year. He said his thoughts have been with the people left to fight with Florida’s beleaguered unemployment system.

“And an unemployment insurance system that was not up to the challenge when this crisis first started, has not been up to the challenge throughout the crisis, and is not up to the challenge today,” said Templin. “And the governor is refusing to do much, if anything, about it.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced outgoing House Republican Leader Dane Eagle will replace Ken Lawson as the head of the Department of Economic Opportunity, the agency responsible for processing unemployment claims.

Templin said he’d also like to see the U.S. Senate pass the HEROES Act when it returns from its recess next Tuesday, as he believes time is running out for many workers trying to feed their families.

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