Florida bill would place new restrictions on some but not all public employee unions

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Senate has approved a measure that would weaken public sector unions but not all of them.

The main target of Senate Bill 256 is teachers’ unions, which have been heavily criticized by the DeSantis administration and supporters.

The DeSantis Administration calls the bill a “Paycheck protection measure.” But some Union members describe it as “Paycheck compilation.” They allege the Governor is trying to weaken the Teachers’ Unions.

If signed into law the bill would

1. Ban the automatic withdrawal of dues from an employee’s paycheck.

2. Require that unions represent at least 60% of teachers in the district for the organization to be certified. That is up from the current 50%

3. It would require members who wish to be members of a union to sign a membership form.

The law would not apply to unions for law enforcement, correctional officers, probation officers, or firefighters. Organizations that routinely support Republican candidates. It would only apply to Teachers’ unions and certain Nursing unions. Groups that regularly back Democratic candidates.

F. Vincent Vernuccio is the senior policy adviser for the group “Workers for Opportunity,” and says the bill is about keeping unions transparent, efficient, and accountable.

“This is about giving teachers and most public employees in Florida. Information about their First Amendment right and their rights under Florida is right to work law to choose and pay the government Union at the workplace or not,” Vernuccio said.

Chris Pagel is the President of the Nassau Teachers Association. He wonders why the law doesn’t include police and other unions.

“They’re trying to fix things that either don’t exist at all or aren’t broken. And this is the kind of stuff that really makes me angry,” Pagel said.

Florida’s Right to Work law means that Floridians are already free from the obligation to join a labor union or pay dues to it. Teachers’ unions in Florida are not legally allowed to go on strike and the school boards have the ultimate say over employee salaries. The bill now heads to the Florida House of Representatives.