- Florida House and Senate committees endorse legislation with contentious amendments affecting public employee unions, potentially impacting automatic deductions of union dues from salaries.
- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis supports the bill, aiming to remove government involvement in collecting union dues and ensuring money goes to teachers instead of interest groups.
- Critics and labor unions strongly disapprove of the proposed changes, arguing that they create additional hurdles for union members while exempting unions representing law enforcement officers and firefighters.
On Thursday, Florida House and Senate committees endorsed legislation that would introduce a series of contentious amendments affecting public employee unions. The Senate bill (SB 256), greenlit by the Fiscal Policy Committee, is now prepared for consideration by the entire Senate.
The House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee approved the House version of the bill (HB 1445) with a 10-5 vote. Republican House sponsor Dean Black echoed talking points that the bill allows employees to know up front that their money is going to support union political causes.
In December 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his two-year plan at an education event for Florida school board members. The plan included a call for paycheck protection for Florida teachers, which aimed to prevent automatic deductions of union dues from their salaries.
DeSantis specifically expressed his desire to remove government involvement in collecting union dues. Currently, Florida workers, including teachers, have the option to refrain from joining their union, but if they don’t, union dues are automatically deducted from their paychecks.
“We don’t want to play a role in deducting anybody’s money, so you write [your check] every month for the dues and you do it that way,” DeSantis said at the time. “It’s more of a guarantee that the money is actually going to go to teachers and not be frittered away by interest groups who get involved in the school system.”
Republican Senate sponsor Blaise Ingoglia said the amendments would not infringe on collective bargaining rights, stating that “There is nothing in this bill preventing an employee from joining a union.”
However, critics vehemently opposed the suggested changes. Labor unions have expressed strong disapproval of the proposed legislation, as it includes modifications such as prohibiting public employee union members from having dues automatically deducted from their salaries. Instead, members would be required to pay dues separately. Moreover, the bills would necessitate that unions re-establish their status as bargaining agents if they represent under 60% of eligible employees. However, the legislation would exempt unions representing law enforcement officers and firefighters from these changes.
Rep. Jervonte Edmonds, D-West Palm Beach, argued that Floridians are primarily concerned with providing for their families and paying their increasing bills, and they expect support in the workplace where they dedicate a third of their day.