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AFL-CIO: "Pre-Emption Bill" threatens FL Wages, Economic Development

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Monday, April 15, 2013   

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida lawmakers are pushing legislation that could have a far-reaching impact on wages, sick leave and benefits for thousands of Floridians. The "Pre-Emption Bill" passed the state House earlier this month and similar legislation is up for a vote in the Senate. The measure, House Bill 655, would prevent local governments from requiring vendors applying for contracts to offer things such as a living wage or domestic-partner benefits for workers.

Rich Templin with the Florida AFL-CIO explained that the measure would have a wide effect.

"It will definitely impact a lot of cities and counties around the state who are trying to develop their economy by providing good, well-paying jobs," he stated.

The legislation has been linked to the American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC. That national organization writes model bills, generally conservative, with the influence of member businesses and lawmakers. ALEC has been criticized in recent months for what some say is an unfair "pay to play" influence on politics.

Groups such as the AFL-CIO insist that local governments in the state should be allowed to require their vendors to uphold high working standards for their employees, particularly since they are being paid with tax dollars.

"I'm sure a lot of those businesses would like to get the contract, they would like to get those tax dollars, but they'd rather pocket that money as opposed to paying it out to their employees," Templin charged. "So that's a big part of it."

Some residents of Orange County have been fighting to get an ordinance in place that would require earned sick pay for workers. Walt Disney World and Darden restaurants are among the large employers lobbying against such efforts.




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