Today, Florida’s economy is rebounding at a pace that has other states looking to us for leadership. Our state is growing by more than 1,000 net new people a day, we are the third most populous state in the nation welcoming more than 105 million visitors each year, nearly one in 10 U.S. jobs in 2015 were created in Florida, education reforms continue to help close achievement gaps, and our unemployment rate — once at historic heights of more than 11 percent — has continued to remain below the national average.
And while many would have you believe our state’s successes come from only our sunshine and beaches, at the Florida Chamber we know firsthand that our state continues to move forward thanks, in part, to a united business community that believes in free enterprise, believes in private-sector job creation and fights for a stronger Florida.
In fact, our efforts to make Florida a global leader continue to be challenged by groups who stand in the way of American competitiveness, free enterprise and economic opportunity for all Floridians.
Environmental extremists continue to deploy regulation after regulation to hurt our efforts to plan for smarter growth and protect our environment as we move toward solving our water challenges. Unions that unabashedly put the interests of their members before the interests of Florida’s students continue to try to take options away from students and their parents and, in turn, limit a child’s opportunity.
Incredibly, some politicians are following the trial lawyer playbook and continue to side with special interests who put themselves ahead of what’s right for Florida. In fact, some politicians have proved their loyalty to billboard trial lawyers who exploit Florida’s legal system by refusing to act on Florida’s worsening lawsuit abuse problem. Insurance abuse, fueled by trial lawyers looking for a payout, continues to cost Florida’s families and businesses hard-earned dollars — an average of $3,400 per family of four.
Yet despite the unlimited resources of special interest groups, their policies of less freedom and less competitiveness have never worked — and they never will. We continue to push back against special interest groups who have and freely use their unlimited resources and national connections to attempt to drown Florida in unnecessary regulations, taxes, government mandates and red tape, but we need your help. Their efforts never tire and neither will ours.
The Florida Chamber, our members and our partners have been fighting for greater economic opportunity and job creation since 1916. And for the past 100 years, the Florida Chamber has stood up for what’s right for Florida in every corner — from the Florida Legislature to the Florida Cabinet, from state to federal agencies, from the court of law to the court of public opinion. When the battle is about what is best for Florida’s future, the Florida Chamber is on the front lines.
At the Florida Chamber, we believe:
For those interested in fighting against special interests and who believe in Florida’s future — we invite you to join the fight. The battle for free enterprise continues and we welcome your support. For those of you who have already joined us in the arena to fight for free enterprise, we thank you.
We invite you to be a part of our next 100 years and help us secure Florida’s future and remember, when the Florida Chamber wins, Florida wins. When Florida wins, America wins.
Eduardo Suarez-Solar, MMS, MPA, JD, SPHR has represented and advised small, medium and large organizations regardingall aspects of their labor and employment relations, as well as provided strategic business development counsel to hundreds of companies, not-for-profits, government entities and individuals over the past decades. Ed’s experience includes advising employers regarding employment law, human resource management and compliance, traditional labor law matters and executive and organizational coaching. Ed has represented clients for over 25 years in both mediations and arbitrations. He is also a Florida Supreme Court Circuit Court Mediator and a Florida Supreme Court Qualified Arbitrator.
Ed continuously strives to understand his client’s challenges, frustrations, threats and opportunities. His experience spans the spectrum of the business life cycle, ranging from labor counsel pertaining to the acquisition of a near bankruptcy manufacturing facility and addressing the inherent obstacles of such an endeavor; to helping grow the business into a thriving company with more than 150 employees and $30 million in sales. He has served in such roles as interim plant director for a mid-sized business in the northeast, as well as interim vice president of human resources for a national restaurant chain with over 1500 employees.
A former union member himself, Ed knows first-hand the impact that unions can have on an organization. He has advised hundreds of clients regarding how to manage their businesses to improve employee relations and increase productivity through the design of employee motivation programs, streamlined systems and well-defined processes, policies and procedures. Ed is committed to incorporating his vast experience as a past production worker, manager and owner when advising his clients.
In addition, Ed is dedicated to coaching executives at all levels to develop their leadership and management practices, with a focus on enhancing both individual and overall organizational performance. Ed focuses on partnering with his clients’ executives to encourage self-discovery and accountability that not only achieves short-term objectives, but also establishes the foundation for sustained personal and professional development. Bilingual in English and Spanish, Ed also assists executives in foreign countries looking to expand to the U.S., or companies looking to expand from the U.S., with their business, legal and cultural transition.
Ed served as a federal attorney with the National Labor Relations Board in Denver, Colorado, as well as worked with the Bibb City District Attorney in Macon, Georgia. He is a member of the State Bar of Florida and Hillsborough County Bar Association, as well as admitted to practice before the U.S. District for the Northern, Middle and Southern Districts of Florida.
An invited speaker at national, state and local events, Ed has authored numerous articles pertaining to labor law and human resource management for various publications. Before joining Gunster, Ed practiced with two nationally prominent labor and employment boutique firms before purchasing the West Coast Employers Association, known as Integrated Employer Resources.
Joseph Santoro is a shareholder who joined the firm in 2002. Joe is the co-chair of Gunster’s Labor & Employment practice group. He is an experienced trial lawyer and trusted advisor who represents clients in every phase of the employment relationship, from day-to-day counseling, to administrative proceedings, to employment litigation. Joe also represents business clients in other commercial disputes and litigation matters.
Although Joe has diverse litigation experience, his practice focuses primarily on defending business clients and executives in employment related disputes including executive contract disputes, non-compete litigation, discrimination and harassment cases, wage and hour litigation, whistleblower claims, wrongful termination cases, employee leave claims, and employee theft and trade secret litigation.
Joe’s courtroom experience makes him a trusted counselor and advisor to clients, who understand that knowing what it takes to successfully defend cases in court is crucial to making correct employment decisions so that costly litigation can be avoided. Joe’s experience allows him to provide valuable advice, counseling and training to business clients regarding a full array of labor and employment issues including wage and hour compliance, Department of Labor audits, reductions in force and plant closings, workplace diversity and non-discrimination, sexual harassment prevention and compliance, employee leave requests under the FMLA, and disability accommodations. In addition, Joe works with clients on preparing employment agreements, non-competition agreements, employee handbooks and policies, and other documents that are essential to maintaining corporate best practices in the area of labor and employment law. Joe also represents management in administrative proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).