Over 200 Florida businesses join coalition to pass Competitive Workforce Act

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

On Tuesday, Florida reached a milestone in the growing battle for fair, equitable and competitive workplaces throughout the state.

Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce announced more than 200 Florida employers; both large and small, have now joined the fight to support passage of the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.

State legislators are currently considering two bipartisan proposals — House Bill 33, filed by Key Largo Republican State Rep. Holly Raschein and Senate Bill 156, filed by Democratic State Sen. Joe Abruzzo from Wellington – known as the Competitive Workforce Act.

The Act seeks to add nondiscrimination protections for gay, lesbian and transgendered Floridians to the list of protected groups, such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap and marital status.

If passed, the bills would update Florida’s anti-discrimination law, by creating a uniform state law that supporters believe will help to attract and retain the best employees, and a competitive advantage in today’s evolving marketplace.

Coalition spokesperson Christina Johnson said since the bills are now in the Florida House and Senate, the Florida Competes movementhas gained a tremendous amount of momentum.

“Since that time,” Johnson added, “we now have a field team in place who have been effective in reaching out to small business owners and local leaders throughout the state who believe that anti-discrimination measures must be in place among the LGBT community.”

Increased support is also a direct result of a host of volunteers writing letters and making phone calls, Johnson said.

Florida Competes, first launched December 2014, includes business leaders, lawmakers, faith leaders, members of the LGBT community and concerned residents with one goal: passing the Florida Competitive Workforce Act.

Leading the coalition, as president is Patrick Geraghty, Chair of the Board of Directors and CEO of Florida Blue in Jacksonville; John Tonnison, Executive Vice President and Worldwide CIO of Tech Data Corporation in Clearwater acts as secretary; and Philip Dinkins, Senior Vice President of DTZ in Tampa is treasurer.

Twenty-three primary members of the coalition are the AmericanAirlines Arena, Bilzin Sumberg, C1Bank, Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Carnival Corporation, CSX, Darden, Florida Blue, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Haskell, HSN, Marriott, the Miami HEAT, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Inc., On Top of the World Communities, Raymond James, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Tech Data, the University of North Florida, Walt Disney World Resorts, Wells Fargo and Winn Dixie.

From more information, visit FLCompetes.org, which provides information about the grassroots campaign.

More than 200 Florida businesses and organizations that support the Competitive Workforce Act include:

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.