–Fortune 500 companies, major employers, 400+ businesses push for passage of the Competitive Workforce Act-
(Tallahassee, Fla.) –Members of the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee today voted to temporarily postpone Senate Bill 120 by Sen. Joseph Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach). The bipartisan legislation, commonly referred to as the Competitive Workforce Act, simply aims to update the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. The Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce (FBCW) coalition issued the following statement from Campaign Manager Patrick Slevin.
“The Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce (FBCW) coalition is grateful to committee chairman, Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla (R-Miami), for his tireless efforts in getting SB 120 heard before his committee – an historic first for this issue. We thank Sen. Abruzzo and Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) for their leadership in sponsoring the anti-discrimination legislation. Thank you also to Sen. David Simmons (R-Longwood) for his work in strengthening the measure through the amendment process.
“On Monday, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee heard from John Tonnison, Executive Vice President and CIO of Tech Data Corporation, a Fortune 500 company in Clearwater, who explained the importance of the Competitive Workforce Act. Others stood to waive in support including John Faith of DTCC Tampa, Christopher Gassett of HSN, along with AT&T, CSX, Florida Blue, Florida Realtors, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and Walt Disney World Resort.
“We are proud to have had this pro-business legislation heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and to have secured strong support from Republicans and Democrats on this pro-business issue. We will continue to educate elected officials that in order for our state to remain competitive in the global marketplace, we must eliminate any and all discrimination in the workplace, in housing and in public accommodations. We are confident that Florida leaders will do the right thing and end this state sanctioned discrimination.”
While it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, the gay and transgender community is currently left out of statewide non-discrimination protections. SB 120 and its companion in the Florida House of Representatives, House Bill 45 by Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo), aim to address this by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the law. The bill has bipartisan support in both chambers.
Top employers in the state have united to form the FBCW coalition, which aims to grow Florida’s economy by attracting and retaining the best workers to the state with the promise of equal opportunity employment. Thirty-seven major Florida employers, including Fortune 500 companies AT&T, CSX, Darden Restaurants, Marriott, NextEra Energy, Office Depot, Tech Data, Walt Disney World Resort and Wells Fargo have joined, with more than 400 local businesses on board.
The coalition is led by Patrick Geraghty, Chairman 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; and Philip Dinkins, Senior Vice President of Cushman & Wakefield in Tampa. They serve as president, secretary and treasurer of FBCW, respectively.
About Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce
The Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition is a 501c(4) whose mission is to support passing the Competitive Workforce Act, which would modernize state law to include anti-discrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. The coalition believes that the Competitive Workforce Act will make Florida more competitive in the national and global marketplace in much the same way companies have benefitted from adopting anti-discrimination policies. For additional information, please go to www.FLCompetitiveWorkforce.com or visit the coalition on Twitter and Facebook.