On the eve of the kickoff to this year's legislative session, the United Teachers of Dade held a rally with representatives from other unions in Miami-Dade County.
They were joined by local Democratic leaders, Miami-Dade School Board Member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, and members of the Occupy Miami movement.
The rally was slow to start. Before it began, people snacked on pastelitos and pigs in blankets. Some rang cowbells and held signs with messages like "Fight Back Florida: We can do better than 50th. Demand better education funding." The band from American Senior High, decked out in red and white, opened.
United Teachers of Dade President Karen Aronowitz said it was important for unions to speak with one voice. She sported a T-shirt with an eagle and the words: "Proud to be union."
"Let's get focused because tomorrow is Tuesday and our Legislature meets for the first day," Aronowitz said. "They might not have you in mind, but we have got to have them in mind ... We have a common ground. We need jobs, jobs that sustain our families."
Aronowitz noted that there are more than 1,400 bills in draft -- and it's a given not all will make it to the floor. "We have got to determine which bills are heard and which bills go away," she said.
-- LAURA ISENSEE