ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) –It was billed as a protest over citizens being denied earned sick time leave. The activists who gathered in Orlando on Thursday did rail against sick time pay not being allowed in Orange County, but they also took the opportunity to target Florida Governor Rick Scott.
In August, a significant percentage of voters approved forcing companies to give employees earned sick time leave, but it was too late.
The measure had previously surfaced in 2012, but it was not allowed on the ballot that year, because of confusion over ballot language and because a court review was needed, Orange County commissioners argued at the time. During the next legislative session, the ability to have binding referendums on the relationship between employer and employee was taken away from the citizens by lawmakers.
The protesters believe it was an inside job to protect corporate interests and that the Orange County Commission was complicit.
Sophia Glover helped collect the 50,000 petitions needed to force the vote. She said she had to watch helplessly as her daughter lost her job when her father got sick with cancer, and he had to have an emergency surgery. The daughter missed work to be with her father in the hospital and was fired.
“We need this. We’re not asking anyone to give us anything. This earned pay sick time is what we will work for. We will deserve to get it. There’s a lot of Americans that don’t even know it doesn’t exist because they automatically have it.”
Sick time was merely the avenue through which Orange County Democrats, Organize Now, and the Planned Parenthood PAC of Central Florida attacked Gov. Scott. As each representative took to the podium, they made it clear that the governor was to blame for the failure of sick time pay.
“This is nothing short of cronyism and hypocrisy, and as a result of Rick Scott’s callousness,” said Carlos Smith, Chairman of Orange County Democrats. “Every day, working families in Central Florida have to suffer.”
Stephanie Porta, of Organize Now, said, “Today marks the two-year anniversary of our county commission delaying our right to vote on this issue, in order for Rick Scott to deliver the kill shot.”
“Time after time, Rick Scott and the majority of the Florida Legislature has shown that they don’t care about hard working families here in Florida,” added Anna Vishkaee Eskamani, of CFLA Planned Parenthood.
The event was organized by the group Florida for All.