Ashley Moody alleges retaliation by Biden Administration in union dues dispute

by | Oct 4, 2023

  • Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a legal challenge against the Biden administration, alleging retaliation due to the state’s legislation restricting public-sector union dues deductions.
  • The Biden administration allegedly threatened to withhold federal funding from Florida if the state did not abandon the reforms, endangering over $800 million.
  • The dispute is predicated upon Florida’s passage of Senate Bill 256, which imposed new restrictions on public employee unions.
  • Moody’s complaint argues that the federal government’s actions violate the Spending Clause and Administrative Procedure Act.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody filed a legal challenge against the Biden administration on Wednesday over alleged retaliation efforts following the state’s passage of legislation that restricts the ability of public-sector unions from automatically deducting dues from workers’ paychecks.

According to Moody’s office, the Biden administration instructed Florida to abandon the reforms enacted through the legislation, specifically for transportation workers, or lose federal funding.

According to the Florida Public Transportation Association, the Biden administration’s actions threaten more than $800 million to the state of Florida.

The law in question, Senate Bill 256, was signed into effect by Gov. Ron DeSantis this year, sparking a bevy of legal challenges. The law places a raft of new constraints on public employee unions, which argue that the law unconstitutionally violated contracts requiring payroll dues deductions—contracts agreed upon before the new law took effect on July 1.

Moody’s filing insinuates that the Biden administration is attempting to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding over an “unconstitutional interpretation of the Federal Transit Act. (FTA)”

The complaint further argues that the federal government’s interpretation of the FTA, and threat to withhold funding from Florida, is in violation of the Spending Clause and Administrative Procedure Act.

“[A]s a condition of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in transportation infrastructure funding, Florida must agree to “arrangements the Secretary of Labor concludes are fair and equitable” to protect “the interests of employees affected by the assistance,” Moody’s order reads. “To be clear, Florida has no intention of abolishing the collective bargaining rights of transportation workers.”

As noted in the complaint, in the days before SB 256 went into effect on July 1, the Department of Labor began notifying Florida entities of its determination that the bill jeopardized the state’s eligibility to receive Federal Transit Administration Funding.

The affected entities subsequently sought waivers from the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC), which were initially granted, but with expiration dates tied to collective bargaining agreements. At a later date, according to the order, the Department of Labor notified the applicants that the waivers were insufficient.

“Florida passed laws to protect workers from being strong-armed by unions,” said the attorney general in a prepared statement. “Biden, intent on driving our country into the ground, continues to try to force states to implement his bad policies. As long as I am Florida’s Attorney General, Washington will never decide how we run our state. We’re pushing back against this overreach to protect our state’s autonomy and Florida workers.”


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