- The Florida Legislature approved a paycheck protection plan that places new restrictions on public-employee unions, with Governor Ron DeSantis expected to sign the bill.
- The bill prohibits automatic dues deductions, requires recertification for unions representing less than 60 percent of eligible employees, and mandates audited financial statements from unions.
- Critics call the bill a “union-busting” measure, with opponents expected to challenge the legislation in court.
- But supporters say the bill gives employees more control over their paycheck dollars, while protecting taxpayers who are often directly at odds with public unions.
On Wednesday, the Florida House approved the paycheck protection plan that places new restrictions on public-employee unions. With a 72-44 vote, the bill, SB 256, had already moved through the Senate and now awaits Governor Ron DeSantis’ signature.
The bill would prohibit automatic dues deductions from workers’ paychecks, requiring union members to make separate payments instead. It would also necessitate that unions representing less than 60 percent of eligible employees be recertified as bargaining agents. The bill also includes a provision that allows public employers, like school districts, to challenge union applications for renewal if they believe the applications to be inaccurate. The legislation also requires audited financial statements from unions, which must be made available to members.
Teachers’ unions, which supported Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist in last year’s election, are expected to be among the most directly affected by the legislation. Law enforcement, correctional officer, and firefighter unions are exempt from the new restrictions.
Supporters said the legislation would bring transparency and allow employees to have more control over their dues dollars, while also pointing out that taxpayers are also positively impacted.
“In Florida, government unions often negotiate directly against taxpayers. As both the employer and steward of public funds, state and local governments have an obligation to spend taxpayer dollars in the best interest of the taxpayer, so we applaud the Florida Legislature for passing much-needed paycheck protection accountability and transparency legislation,” said Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson. “This will make Florida more competitive while protecting consumers and taxpayers.”
Critics, though, called the bill a “union busting” measure, and Andrew Spar, president of the state’s largest teacher union, the Florida Education Association, vowed to fight the legislation.
“If Gov. DeSantis thinks he will silence us, he’s dead wrong,” Spar said in a emailed statement. “We will do everything in our power to guarantee that Florida’s teachers, staff, professors and all public employees have a voice in their workplaces. No matter the pushback, educators will continue to stand up for our students, our professions and public education.”
DeSantis is expected to sign the legislation, but opponents are also expected to try to tie the legislation up in court.