Union vote by bridge tenders lifts hopes of organized labor
About 175 South Florida bridge tenders — many of them senior citizens — appear to be taking a leading role in the resurgence of unions in Florida.
Employees of a private contractor operating in Broward and Palm Beach counties have voted to join an international union, raising the hopes of labor leaders that a long period of decline is at an end.
“It’s always been rough going down here,” said Scott Singer, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 487. “But this shows the mindset is finally starting to change. Workers see that they need to fight for themselves a little bit.”
The employees’ decision represents the largest single organizing victory in Local 487′s 100-year history and will be used as a model for efforts to unionize other bridge tenders around the state, officials said. Local 487 covers Broward, Palm Beach and 11 other Florida counties.