First Read

Mike Williams, Florida AFL-CIO president, dies in 'water accident'

Williams had been head of the state labor union since 2009.

Mike Williams, in a 2017 photo.

Mike Williams, in a 2017 photo. Florida AFL-CIO website

Mike Williams, president of the Florida AFL-CIO, died Saturday, the labor union announced over the weekend. Williams died in what the union called a “water accident” near his home in St. Marks, a short distance up the Wakulla River from the Gulf of Mexico and about 20 miles south of Tallahassee. His age and other details were still unavailable as of Monday. 

Williams had been head of the state AFL-CIO since 2009, according to his online bio: He “was introduced to Florida’s labor movement after completing his apprenticeship as a construction electrician.” He became business manager of his local, IBEW 177 in Jacksonville, then “went on to serve as President of the Florida Building Trades Council.” The Florida AFL-CIO represents over a million union members, retirees and family members.

“Mike organized, advocated and revitalized the labor community in Florida,” Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried said in a statement released Monday. “A man of character and conviction, Mike showed us how to stand up for what we believe in and never failed to remind us who built America.” 

Added former Obama for America-Florida spokesperson Eric Jotkoff, Williams “was … a legend in the fight for economic justice, the freedom for workers to have a voice in their workplace, and ensuring the economy works for all Floridians.” And Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg called Williams’ death “a huge loss for our state. Mike was an amazing guy who always put others over himself.”

This is First Up, an excerpt from City & State's daily morning newsletter, First Read. To subscribe for free, please visit our newsletters page

NEXT STORY: Tallahassee City Commission sued over empty seats on code enforcement board