With a trend of taking away public sector workers’ defined benefit pensions — Naples, Haines City, Orlando, and now Winter Haven — newly elected 604 President Mike Stewart has made his number one goal protecting pensions.
Believing the best defense is a good offense, with assistance from the National UWUA, the local is now organizing all city workers who are not already in the union but could be. “My Executive Board and I have asked President Langford for help from the National in organizing all workers in the City of Lakeland who are in our pension plan,” says Stewart.
In a recent letter to Lakeland employees, 604 E-Board members wrote: “For many of you, this may be the first experience dealing with a union. We feel strongly about membership because our members are the ‘union.’ The leadership of Local 604’s main goals are to bring effective representation to our work place and to bargain for better wages and working conditions for our members…. Today more than ever, it is important to unionize and have a voice. Employers are trying to get rid of the responsibility for providing quality health insurance, good pensions, job safety protections, etc.”