Over 100 people protest in front of Federal building against Rick Scott & Florida Legislature in Tampa

Activists called the protest Defend the Dream. Dave Frotscher, 81, helped form a union while living in Cincinnati back in the early 1950s (CWA Local 4531). He says he used to be a Republican when the the "party used to be something honorable," but says he has absolutely no respect for the party anymore. "I'm not thrilled with some of the Democrats, but the people are going to have to get out here and make some noise and get the people in Tallahassee and the people in D.C waking up and taking care of everybody, and be fair!"

There were also plenty of signs showing support for public school teachers in Florida.

Mary Shepherd said she was concerned that if the state doesn't start respecting its teachers, they could lose them.  She says her daughter, son-in-law and grandson are all instructors in Florida, and "all three of them  have been looking for other places for jobs." Shepherd acknowledges that teachers are hardly the only ones suffering under the still barely recovering economy in the Sunshine State, but says there has to be something wrong when her daughter, who holds a Masters degree, makes less than she did working in the private sector some 15 years ago.  "How can they say teachers are overpaid?" she demanded. "Who are they trying to fool?"

Organizers of Tuesday's march say they're just getting started trying to keep the heat on state legislators in the Tampa Bay area.  They've announced that they will be demonstrating near District 56 Representative Rachel Burgin's local offices this Friday afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m.  That will take place at Winthrop Village, at Providence and Bloomingdale Avenue in Riverview.  And they say they'll repeat their actions the following Friday in front of freshman Republican Representative Dana Young's local headquarters as well.

Late Tuesday afternoon, as the Florida House of Representatives was in the middle of  a debate on a controversial teacher merit bill that would do away with tenure and require that half of a teacher's performance would be based on student test scores, a group of approximately 100 protesters gathered on both the west and east sides of Florida Avenue in front of the federal courthouse, protesting Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature's agenda this session, such as that bill (SB 736 in the Senate) as well as others that target unions.

Protester Chris Regalado is with the IBEW Local 824 out of Tampa.  She was holding a sign that read, "This is what happens when nobody votes."  She complained that though Rick Scott and other Republicans who campaigned and won last November on the theme of getting Florida back to work, "basically what they're doing is trying to dismantle the middle class and targeting unions, and teachers, you know? We've lost the jobs with high-speed rail, and now we're going after collective bargaining. "

Standing down the street from Regalado on the west side of Florida Avenue where the shade dominated was retired professor  Joyce Stevens, whose sign said, "Invest in education, not war." She said she believed that Rick Scott and the GOP-led Legislature's "real agenda" was to "obliterate the unions."

In fact there are several proposals in the Legislature that take aim at unions. On Monday, the Senate Community Affairs Committee advanced a bill on a narrow 5-4 vote (Jim Norman voted no) that would prevent the automatic deduction of union dues from workers' paychecks.

"I never thought we had to fight this battle for collective bargaining rights — again," Stevens said. "What kind of nonsense is this that if they keep at it, they will destroy the middle class," she said of the John Thrasher-sponsored bill.

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