United School Employees of Pasco
USEP News and Updates
2018 Election UNITER
 /  2018 Election UNITER
UNITER title
A Publication of the United School Employees of Pasco
October 5, 2018

Your Vote Is Your Voice... Be Heard


Dear Union Member,

In September, the United School Employees of Pasco successfully re-registered as your collective bargaining agent. In spite of targeted attacks on teacher unions from Tallahassee, we were able to push our density above the 50% requirement expected of all instructional bargaining units under new Florida law. Though we should always be engaged in building the strength of our union, the urgent growth of our organization to the required density consumed valuable time, effort and resources from our professional organization—time, effort and resources that might have otherwise been invested in member services.

Hostile legislation like last year’s HB 7055 has become all too common. As the election draws near, we must question why we were targeted and by whom. And more importantly, what can we do to turn the tide?
We must recognize that it has not only been our collective bargaining rights under attack, public education itself has been threatened by those who would use voucher schemes and unfunded mandates to move us further away from our state’s constitutional obligation to offer ‘a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education.’ When we think about our mission as educators, we must ask ourselves if we are holding policy makers accountable for the conditions they have created for learning in our schools. Who will work to ensure that our neighborhood public schools have the best resources to meet our students’ needs?

The outcomes of these elections will be decided by people who are informed and dedicated to representing their interests at the polls. While the candidates themselves are not perfect, our state and national affiliates have poured over resumes, voting records and platforms to make recommendations based on who best represents the issues impacting Public Education, our schools and students, and our working families. It is important not only that you vote, but also your family members as well. We need to educate our neighbors, fellow employees and others we come in regular contact with to the concerns of Public Education and how bad legislation affects our students, our employees and our district. We MUST vote our profession and understand those candidates who support our issues.

Voting is a personal decision, and I would never tell you how to vote. What I WOULD ask of you is to review the information in this UNITER. Your union and our state and national affiliates have participated in a process to endorse the best choices for workers in our state. These candidates have avowed themselves to fight for the working families here in Pasco County, in Florida, and nationally as well. It is your civic responsibility and duty to vote. Get your family and friends involved in this election. Take a stand, and TOGETHER, WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Don Peace, President

Voter Turnout In the Midterm Is Vital - EVERY Vote Counts

We’ve all heard someone say it. Colleagues, family members, friends, and perhaps we ourselves have questioned whether our one vote could really make a difference, particularly in what seem to be highly partisan times. But before you give in to voter apathy, make note of these significant decisions that came about as the result of a single vote:

  • In 1984, a Monroe County, Florida commissioner was elected by one vote.
  • In the 1998 election of county commissioners in Gilchrist County, Florida, for lack of one additional vote in one district, the two candidates for county commissioner had the exact same number of votes. After a recount, the vote totals for both candidates still remained tied. Drawing lots determined the winner of the district’s contest.
  • In a 1999 city election in Hillsborough County, Florida, one of the city council candidates won by a single vote!

At a time when there is so much on the line for our schools and our profession, every vote matters! We know that decisions are made by those who show up... and showing up has never been easier.

This year’s ballot is a lengthy one, so make plan! With the ease of Vote By Mail (VBM) and the convenience of Early Voting, there is no need to wait until the last minute to cast your ballot.

The election of US Senator, Governor, and State Legislators is certainly important, but please be sure to vote all the way down the ballot!

AFT - Union Plus Insurance
UNITER Page Break


Where do endorsements come from?
Over the course of the past year, volunteer members of our organization worked to ensure that the interests of USEP members were represented as candidates were considered for endorsement.

USEP, in a coordinated effort with affiliated unions, participated in a comprehensive screening process which was open to all local candidates for office. The screening committees interviewed candidates, evaluated the viability of campaigns, and made recommendations for endorsement to the local labor council. The council voted on the recommendations and issued endorsements accordingly.

Candidates for state-wide office are screened by the FEA Government Relations Committee and then voted on by the Florida AFL-CIO for endorsement.

In federal elections, the governing bodies of the AFT and NEA issue the endorsement.

It is important to note that endorsements are not made by any single individual within the organization; rather endorsements are made in accordance with the very principles of unionism: solidarity and democracy.

What does an endorsement mean?
Endorsement is a commitment made by the organization to support a candidate for office. Because so much of the work we do in public schools is wholly dependent upon the decisions made by those in public office, endorsements by your union are both an obligation and necessity.

Endorsements are not based on party affiliation. They are only made after careful consideration of the potential impact on our members, with particular attention given to stances on the issues most relevant to education.

Endorsed Candidates

US Senator
Bill Nelson
Andrew Gillum
Attorney General
Sean Shaw
Chief Financial Officer
Jeremy Ring
Commissioner of Agriculture
Nicole “Nikki” Fried


Pasco County

Florida Senate District 16
Amanda Murphy
Florida House District 36
Dr. Linda Jack
Florida House District 37
Tammy Garcia
County Commission District 2
Kelly Smith
County Commission District 4
Brandi Geoit


Pinellas County

Florida Senate District 16
Amanda Murphy
Florida House District 69
Jennifer Webb
Pinellas School Board District 2
Jeff Larsen


Hillsborough County

Congressional District 15
Kristen Carlson
Congressional District 16
David Shapiro
Florida Senate District 18
Janet Cruz
Florida House District 60
Debra Bellanti
Florida House District 63
Fentrice Driskel
13th Judicial Circuit, Group 25
Robin Fuson
County Court Judge, Group 2
G. Greg Green
County Court Judge, Group 8
E. Michael Isaak
Hillsborough School Board District 1
Bill Person

“Strengthen Our Schools”

½ Cent Sales Tax Referendum


Constitutional Amendments
All Florida Voters


Amendment 4
Restorage of Voting Rights for Individuals with Felony Convictions
Would restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions upon completion of their sentences. It would exclude those convicted of murder and felony sexual offenses.


Amendment 1
Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption
Would increase the portion of a home’s value that’s exempted from non-school property taxes. The changes would apply to the value of a home between $100,000 and $125,000 with the maximum exemption climbing to $75,000. Amendment 1 is a tax shift; not a tax cut. The increased exemption is regressive and will be unfair as some homeowners, plus renters and non-homestead property owners, will not benefit. Florida is already a low-tax state and the exemption will either diminish public services or shift taxes to others.

Amendment 5
Increase to Two-Thirds Vote Majority
in Legislature to Increase Taxes
Would increase the majority needed in the state Legislature to two-thirds to impose, approve or raise taxes. It would also mean it would take only a third of members in either the House or Senate to block tax increases or repeal exemptions. The amendment will apply regardless of economic conditions or state needs. Will hamstring future generations by making it almost impossible to raise additional state revenue. More of the burden of services will be shifted to local governments. Will allow further reductions in taxes or additional exemption. A similar proposal was defeated by voters in 2012.

Amendment 7
First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits, and Public Colleges and Universities
Would require employers to provide benefits to surviving spouses of first responders if they die on duty, and it would require the state to provide benefits to surviving spouses of active-duty military members who are killed. The last parts of the measure would require university trustees to agree by a third-thirds super-majority to raise college fees and establish the state college system in the state Constitution. Universities are currently in the Constitution, but state colleges (community colleges) are not. This amendment combines unrelated issues. Supermajority for university fee increases ties the hands of colleges and doesn’t belong in the Constitution.

No position has been recommended on other Amendments


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If you are an employee of Pasco County Schools and not already a member of USEP, consider joining today! Members are eligible for a wide range of benefits through our affiliates and benefit partners. USEP also provides members with professional development opportunities and representation for member issues.