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COLUMN

Happytown

The hottest new laws in the 2011 legislative session (as a sketch!) and The Fountainhead comes to Winter Park to bust unions.

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Naturally, it was the city itself that gave employees the idea in the first place. Winter Park axed cost-of-living adjustments in 2008, eliminated merit increases in 2009 and disposed of longevity bonuses last December (one month after the commission voted to quadruple their own salaries, that is). Finally, one unnamed employee contacted the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and on March 18, AFSCME filed with the state to allow the city's nearly 150 public works, parks, fleet maintenance and water utilities workers to vote on whether they'd like to be unionized. According to AFSCME organizer Kevin Hill, 65 percent of the affected employees indicated an interest through mail-in placards to the state's Public Employees Relations Commission.

That percentage more than guaranteed a vote on unionization (which could occur as soon as next month), but rather than let the employees decide for themselves, the city commission went on the paternal counter-offensive, voting unanimously to hire the union busters at Kulture LLC, a company headed by a Northeasterner named Peter List. According to Fortune Small Business, List is known for not only his "strongly pro-capitalist, antigovernment ideology," but also his "long ponytail, straight-leg Levi's, beat-up cowboy boots and Harley hog." List also runs capitalismgear.com: "Fighting collectivists and those that strive to take freedom from others is something that I've been doing professionally for over a decade," List writes on his website.

Workers don't seem pleased about the city doling out funds to an Ayn Randian acolyte with intentions of brainwashing them (also note that in a letter to employees only one week before the $105,000 pledge, Winter Park City Manager Randy Knight said the city "continues to face the most serious financial hardship it has faced in at least a decade"), so on May 9, around 25 people lined the back of the city commission chambers wearing AFSCME tees and "I Support City Workers" stickers. "I'm here to ask that the election process is fair and that the taxpayers don't spend $105,000 on someone who gets paid to keep us from having a vote," said Andrew Jordan, a utility service worker, to commissioners. Regrettably, Jordan did not end his speech with a pledge to run for Winter Park city commission.

He would have to be crazy to do that.

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