- A group of teacher and faculty unions, including the state’s largest, have banded together to file a lawsuit challenging a recently passed paycheck protection law targeting teacher unions.
- Among the arguments against the law is the fact that lawmakers have exempted other public service employees, such as firefighters and police officers, from the effects of the law.
- DeSantis and other Republicans say the law fosters transparency and protects taxpayer dollars from going to fund political causes. Teachers unions donated heavily to Democrat campaigns in 2020.
The Florida Education Association (FEA) and other educational unions have lodged a legal challenge against a new Florida law, alleging it imposes undue restrictions on public-employee unions and constitutes political retribution by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The law, known as SB 256, enacted additional limitations on public-employee unions, such as prohibiting automatic dues deductions from workers’ paychecks and requiring recertification for unions representing less than 60 percent of eligible employees. It also introduced audited financial reports that must be shared with union members and allowed public employers to contest union renewal applications.
The FEA, United Faculty of Florida, the Alachua County teachers union, and the University of Florida faculty union filed the lawsuit on Tuesday in a federal court in Tallahassee. The suit alleges the law infringes on First Amendment rights, contract rights, and equal-protection under the constitution.
Critics argue that the law, signed by DeSantis on Tuesday, is politically motivated. They point to the exemption of unions representing law enforcement, correctional officers, and firefighters – groups that have traditionally backed DeSantis and other Republicans – from the law’s provisions.
“The Governor is attempting to penalize ‘school unions’ and other public-employee unions who have challenged his policies,” the lawsuit reads, “while shielding unions that represent law enforcement, corrections, and firefighter employees who have expressed support for him.”
The lawsuit also claims that the law violates First Amendment rights by mandating specific information to be included on union membership forms. Furthermore, it argues that the law impairs existing union contracts, such as those allowing union dues to be deducted from teachers’ paychecks.
Despite these criticisms, DeSantis has defended the law, arguing it benefits teachers by ensuring informed decisions about union membership and dues. Supporters of the law argue that it fosters transparency and protects taxpayer dollars.
However, Andrew Spar, President of the Florida Education Association, likened the law to political retribution, comparing it to DeSantis’ recent dispute with Walt Disney Co. over a state law restricting instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
The lawsuit is just the latest chapter in the ongoing tension between DeSantis and the teachers’ unions, who were prominent supporters of DeSantis’ electoral rival, Democrat Charlie Crist, in last year’s elections.