Florida’s biggest teachers union and their political allies are starting to get giddy this week at the prospect of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat in the state legislature. A paycheck protection proposal making its way through the Republican-controlled House and Senate seeks to change the way unions collect dues from their members, and would force unions, including the Florida Education Association (FEA), the state’s largest teachers union, to get consent from union members before taking money out of their paychecks to cover dues.
But a procedural maneuver in the Senate Rules Committee, in its last scheduled meeting, may have scuttled the bill. The FEA also did its part, launching four television ads this month to help defeat the measure.
Senate Bill 1014 would require a public employee to submit a signed membership authorization form and a signed dues deduction form before an employer may deduct union dues from an employee’s pay. Supporters of the bill say it is necessary to give employees more control over their paycheck and more freedom to choose whether or not to join a union.
If the bill passes, it would have a major impact on Florida’s political climate. Federal campaign finance records and studies have shown that the vast majority of all union donations go to Democrats and liberal activist groups, with the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, leading the charge. The Florida Education Association is affiliated with both national organizations.
That explains why Democrats and their union allies were openly celebrating yesterday on social media after SB 1014 was “temporarily postponed” in the Senate Rules Committee late Wednesday. The postponement, occurring before being approved by the Rules Committee, means it may not make it to the Senate floor for a full vote. Under Florida Senate rules, bills typically require approval from three committees before facing the full Senate. Because there are no more scheduled meetings of the Senate Rules Committee before the end of the 2021 Legislative Session, the bill’s opponents see a much more difficult path forward for the bill.
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat, openly celebrated on social media late Wednesday.
Scott Walker-style UNION BUSTING HB 835 TP’d in the Florida House!!!! 👏 👏
— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) April 20, 2021
While the fight over the proposal isn’t dead yet, it will require some effort to revive it in the Senate. If the unions succeed in killing the bill, it would be a major victory for both them and their Democratic allies across the state, and would be viewed as a missed opportunity for Republicans and for public employees who prefer to opt out of paying union dues.