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Disney World unions vote down offer covering 45,000 workers



ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Union members voted down a contract proposal covering tens of thousands of Walt Disney World service workers, saying it didn’t go far enough toward helping employees face cost-of-living hikes in housing and other expenses in central Florida.

The unions said that 13,650 out of 14,263 members who voted on the contract on Friday rejected the proposal from Disney, sending negotiators back to the bargaining table for another round of talks that have been ongoing since August. The contract covers around 45,000 service workers at the Disney theme park resort outside Orlando.

Disney World service workers who are in the six unions that make up the Service Trades Council Union coalition had been demanding a starting minimum wage jump to at least $18 an hour in the first year of the contract, up from the starting minimum wage of $15 an hour won in the previous contract.

The proposal rejected on Friday would have raised the starting minimum wage to $20 an hour for all service workers by the last year of the five-year contract, an increase of $1 each year for a majority of the workers it covered. Certain positions, like housekeepers, bus drivers and culinary jobs, would start immediately at a minimum of $20 under the proposal.

“Housekeepers work extremely hard to bring the magic to Disney, but we can’t pay our bills with magic,” said Vilane Raphael, who works as a housekeeper at the Disney Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.

The company said that the proposal had offered a quarter of those covered by the contract an hourly wage of $20 in its first year, eight weeks of paid time off for a new child, maintenance of a pension and the introduction of a 401K plan.

“Our strong offer provides more than 30,000 Cast Members a nearly 10% on average raise immediately, as well as retroactive increased pay in their paychecks, and we are disappointed that those increases are now delayed,” Disney spokesperson Andrea Finger said in a statement.

The contract stalemate comes as the Florida Legislature is prepared to convene next week to complete a state takeover of Disney World’s self-governing district. With the support of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the GOP-controlled Statehouse last April approved legislation to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District by June 2023, beginning a closely watched process that would determine the structure of government that controls Disney World’s sprawling property.

The contract with the service workers covers the costumed character performers who perform as Mickey Mouse, bus drivers, culinary workers, lifeguards, theatrical workers and hotel housekeepers, representing more than half of the 70,000-plus workforce at Disney World. The contract approved five years ago made Disney the first major employer in central Florida to agree to a minimum hourly wage of $15, setting the trend for other workers in the hospitality industry-heavy region.

A report commissioned last year by one of the unions in the coalition, Unite Here Local 737, said that an adult worker with no dependents would need to earn $18.19 an hour to make a living wage in central Florida, while a family with two children would need both parents earning $23.91 an hour for a living wage.

While a wage of $15 an hour was enough for the last contract, “with skyrocketing rent, food, and gas prices in the last three years, it’s no longer possible to survive with those wages,” the report said.

Before the pandemic, workers with families in the $15 to $16.50 an hour wage bracket could pay their bills. But with inflation causing the price of food and gas to shoot up, an employee earning $15 an hour full time currently makes $530 less than the worker would need to pay for rent, food and gas each month, the report said.

Last month, food service and concessions workers at the Orange County Convention Center voted to approve a contract that will increase all nontipped workers’ wages to $18 an hour by August, making them the first hospitality workers in Orlando to reach that pay rate.

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Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Legislation to Protect Floridians from a Federally Controlled Central Bank Digital Currency and Surveillance State



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced comprehensive legislation to protect Floridians from the Biden administration’s weaponization of the financial sector through a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).
The legislative proposal protects consumers and businesses from a federally controlled CBDC by:
  • Expressly prohibiting the use of a federally adopted Central Bank Digital Currency as money within Florida’s Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).
  • Instituting protections against a central global currency by prohibiting any CBDC issued by a foreign reserve or foreign sanctioned central bank.
  • Calling on likeminded states to join Florida in adopting similar prohibitions within their respective Commercial Codes to fight back against this concept nationwide.
“The Biden administration’s efforts to inject a Centralized Bank Digital Currency is about surveillance and control,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Today’s announcement will protect Florida consumers and businesses from the reckless adoption of a ‘centralized digital dollar’ which will stifle innovation and promote government-sanctioned surveillance. Florida will not side with economic central planners; we will not adopt policies that threaten personal economic freedom and security.”
“Governor DeSantis is ahead of the curve when it comes to protecting individual rights. A Central Bank Digital Currency is the cornerstone of a federal government that could track each and every transaction that happens in the world,” said State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. “There would be no privacy, and if there is no privacy, there are no rights. In the same way Florida is fighting back against the IRS, we need to fight back against this program. It’s how we protect freedom, liberty, and prosperity.”
“This proposal continues the strong track record of Governor DeSantis pushing back on an overreaching federal government,” said Foundation for Government Accountability CEO Tarren Bragdon. “Our money says In God We Trust. The central bank digital currency changes that to In Government We Trust. That’s wrong and I am grateful for the Governor’s continued pushback of an out-of-control DC bureaucracy.”
A federally controlled Central Bank Digital Currency is the most recent way the Davos elites are attempting to backdoor woke ideology like Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) into the United States financial system, threatening individual privacy and economic freedom. Unlike a decentralized digital currency, a CBDC is directly controlled and issued by the government to consumers, giving government bureaucrats the ability to see all consumer activity and the power to cut off access to goods and services for consumers.
Additionally, a federally sanctioned CBDC as proposed by the Biden administration would diminish the role of community banks and credit unions in our financial system as CBDC currency would be a direct liability of the Federal government, rather than of a chartered financial institution, shrinking market lending power.
Today’s announcement builds on a series of actions taken by the Governor to prevent the proliferation of woke ideology into the financial sector and American daily living and the Biden administration’s continued efforts to promote a central control state, including leading an alliance of 18 states to fight against Biden’s ESG financial fraud.

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Florida State Representative Ashley Gantt’s 2023 Legislative Priorities



Tallahassee, Fla. – For the 2023 Legislative Session, Representative Ashley V. Gantt (D-Miami) has filed CS/HB 87 – Lactation Spaces in Courthouses, HB 1493 – Reemployment Assistance, HB 1261 – Rent and Security Deposits of Communities for Adults Aged 55 or Older, HB 501 – Restoration of Voting Rights Information on Sentencing Scoresheets, HB 1473 – Vacating Premises After Rental Agreement Termination, HB 1213 – Assistant State Attorney and Assistant Public Defender Student Loan Repayment Program and HB 1075 – Divine Nine Specialty License Plate.

Representative Gantt’s legislative priorities are to support families and senior citizens, as well as educating Floridians about their voting rights.

Supporting Families

Committee Substitute/House Bill 87 would require each Florida county courthouse to have a dedicated lactation space. The space must be private, clean, and accessible for mothers to nurse or pump breastmilk, and must be available for all courthouse patrons, including attorneys, jurors, and courthouse staff.

Supporting Seniors

House Bill 1261 would create a guideline for rental communities designed for 55 & over residents by establishing a scale to prevent increases from exceeding 55 percent of the average fixed income of the renters in the community.

Voting Rights

House Bill 501 would provide a notice to defendants about sentencing effects on their voting rights prior to conviction of an offense that could indefinitely prohibit the individual from voting.

For more information on legislation sponsored by Representative Gantt, please visit Representative Ashley Viola Gantt 2023- Sponsored Bills | Florida House of Representatives (

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Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis Celebrate Black History Month with Students and Teachers



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis honored Black History Month with a reception at the Governor’s Mansion. At the event, the Governor and First Lady announced the winners of the student and educator contests. The Black History Month Student and Educator Contests are made possible through a collaboration between the Department of Education, Volunteer Florida, the Florida Lottery, and the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.


“Black History Month is an important opportunity for students to learn about the achievements of African Americans to both our country and our great state,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “It was an honor to host this year’s art, essay and educator winners at the Governor’s Mansion and see what our students have learned over the month.”


“Our Black History Month essay and art competitions help Florida’s students discover and highlight the impressive contributions of African Americans to the great state of Florida. Every year I am excited to read the submissions that students send to honor those achievements,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “It was a pleasure to welcome this year’s student contest winners and some of our state’s best educators to the Governor’s Mansion.”


“Black history is an integral part of American history and Florida history. The Black History Month student art and essay contest allows Florida students to immerse themselves in a piece of Florida’s history,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “This contest would not be possible without our great teachers who engage our students and ensure that they are learning the facts of history. I congratulate all of the winners of this year’s contest.”


“Florida’s Black History Month contests provide students with an opportunity to learn about and recognize the inspirational African American leaders who make our state and nation proud,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “Thank you to both the students and educators who participated in this year’s contests, and congratulations to the winners!”


“Florida goes the extra mile to recognize the immense and historical contributions of African Americans in our great state,” said Volunteer Florida CEO Josie Tamayo. “We are proud to offer this opportunity each year to recognize outstanding students and educators in Florida for their unique efforts and talents.”


“Florida is blessed to have such talented students and educators, and this year’s Black History Month essay and art contests are proof,” said Florida Lottery Secretary John F. Davis. “Seeing what these students have accomplished is inspiring and showcases the hard work and determination that they put forth in the classroom each and every day.”


Students in kindergarten through third grade were invited to submit original artworks for the contest. Four art contest winners were chosen to receive a $100 art supplies gift card and a 1-year pass to Florida state parks.


Students in fourth through twelfth grade were invited to submit an essay no longer than 500 words based on this year’s theme. Six winners were selected including two elementary students (grades 4–5), two middle school students (grades 6–8) and two high school students (grades 9–12). Winners will receive a 2-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation and a $100 gift card for school supplies.


Source: Governor Ron DeSantis’ Office


Additionally, the Governor and First Lady announced the Black History Month Excellence in Education Award Contest. Four winners were selected from nominations sent in by principals, teachers, parents or guardians and students. Excellence in Education award winners will receive a $2,500 prize provided by Volunteer Florida.


Source: Governor Ron DeSantis’ Office


Award recipients are as follows:


Student Art Contest

Isabella Miranda, Everglades K-8 Center, Miami-Dade

Isabella is a 3rd grade student who submitted her work titled “Celebrating the Achievements of African American Floridians” depicting Jackie Robinson.

Ke’Mari Cannon, Golfview Elementary Magnet School, Brevard County

Ke’Mari is a 2nd grade student who submitted her work titled “Highwayman’s Sunset” depicting a famous Highwaymen painting.

Camren Curtis Carrington, Harbordale Elementary, Broward County

Camren is a 2nd grade student who submitted a work titled “Joseph E. Lee,” depicting Lee.

Zaylan Hill, Golfview Elementary Magnet School, Brevard County

Zaylan is a 2nd grade student who submitted a work titled “Highwayman’s Sunset” depicting an interpretation of a Highwaymen painting.


Student Essay Contest

Taige Leathers, Richard Lewis Brown Gifted and Academically Talented Academy, Duval County

Taige is a 5th grade student who wrote an essay titled “Dr. Nathaniel Glover Jr: Making His Way Through Black History.”

Katherine Valdes Torres, Mike Davis Elementary, Collier County

Katherine is a 5th grade student who wrote an essay titled “James Weldon Johnson.” Katherine wants to be a geneticist when she grows up and wishes to be kind to others and help them succeed in life.

Adrian Arias, South Creek Middle School, Orange County

Adrian is a 6th grade student who wrote an essay titled “Fly High” about General Daniel James, Jr. Adrian wishes to study animal medicine and join the Army.

Adriana Singleton, Oak View Middle School, Alachua County

Adriana is an 8th grade student who wrote an essay titled “$1.50 and a Dream” about Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. Adriana wants to become an Emergency Medical Technician and later go on to nursing school.

Elyanah Gibson, Florida Virtual School, Lee County

Elyanah is a 9th grade student who wrote an essay titled “The Matriarch of Liberty City” about Augusta Savage. Elyanah hopes to one day become a pediatrician and enjoys volunteering to help stray animals.

Chanel Victorin, Strawberry Crest High School, Hillsborough County

Chanel is a 12th grade student who wrote an essay titled “Clarence Fort: Florida Hero.” Chanel plans to attend Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and become a software engineer.


Excellence in Education Award Winners

Brandi Grant, Castle Hill Elementary School, Broward County

Ms. Grant teaches 5th grade students and is described as an educator who is outgoing and loves to work together with other teachers to build exciting lesson plans for her students.

Linda Long, Grand Ridge School, Jackson County

Ms. Long teaches 6th grade students in English Language Arts. She is described as a standout for all that she has contributed to her school and puts her total dedication into all that she does for her students.

Cleon Edwards, Joseph Stilwell Military Academy of Leadership, Duval County

Ms. Edwards teaches 8th grade students and leads the military leadership program at her school. She is described as a role model for her students and to celebrate Black History Month, she encouraged her students to learn about influential or lesser known African Americans throughout history and create a poster about them.

Lisa Herron, Cypress Bay High School, Broward County

Ms. Herron teaches grades 9–12 and is the mathematics department chair at her school. She is described as respected and admired by both her students and fellow teachers. She is involved with multiple organizations on campus and she served as the Regional Director for the Florida Association of Mu Alpha Theta, making her the first African American to hold the position.

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