Page 5 of 14
- Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
- Elliana Dix, Denise Diaz and Jonathan Alingo
Central Florida Jobs with Justice
The labor movement has always been a key part of the resistance in America, says Denise Díaz, and right now, organizers are preparing for a full-on attack if a fast-food chain executive takes over the federal Department of Labor.
Díaz is the executive director of Central Florida Jobs With Justice, a coalition of labor unions, community organizations, students, faith-based groups and workers that strives to build power for working people through several campaigns, such as raising wages or protecting collective bargaining. Díaz says sometimes it involves supporting farmworkers and organizing airport baggage handlers to vote on a union, while other times it's sending delegations to a work site. Right now, though, organizers are preparing their response to Trump's nominee for labor secretary: Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which runs the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains. The millionaire opposes several worker protections, such as expanding overtime pay, and has complained about raising the minimum wage.
"Florida is already a right-to-work state, so the little protections workers have on the federal level, like discrimination protections, we're afraid will go away," she says. "People are not really sounding alarms for worker's rights, I think because people live it every day. But I think we're going to start seeing a lot of workers organizing and learning their rights."
Central Florida Jobs with Justice is just the place to do that, Díaz says. With a team of two other people, Díaz is trying to make sure workers know their rights and teaching activists to become organizers.
"Right now we're in crisis mode," she says. "We see emerging activists at protests, and I think we need to turn those people into organizers who can build power. You went to a protest; now how do you become someone who can lead a meeting and lead others in a protest?"
Currently, the organization is looking for volunteers to participate in actions, phone banks and protests. Central Florida Jobs With Justice also provides organizer trainings to its members, Díaz says.
"The labor movement is the resistance that keeps capital and corporations in check," she says. "Now we're seeing corporations in a place where profit comes before people. I think everyone has a stake in the labor movement being stronger, and it's been rolled back so much that we really have to do what we can to keep it intact." – MC