Freedom Foundation Helps Teachers Take a Stand Against Union Corruption in Florida 

Freedom Foundation Helps Teachers Take a Stand Against Union Corruption in Florida 

Freedom Foundation Helps Teachers Take a Stand Against Union Corruption in Florida 

Across the nation, teachers are increasingly frustrated with union corruption. In South Florida, this frustration reached a tipping point.

Given the long history of unaccountable representation, partisan political activity, scandal and corruption associated with United Teachers of Dade (UTD), the union representing Miami public-school educators and support staff, it came as no surprise last year when a group of teachers approached the Freedom Foundation asking for help in forming a replacement union.

Under the terms of Senate Bill 256, which became law in May 2023, every public employee union in the state is required to undergo an independent audit to determine whether its paid membership exceeds 60 percent of the total bargaining unit. When UTD failed to meet the threshold, it had to petition for a new election in order to remain certified.

With a major assist from the Freedom Foundation, the startup union — dubbed the Miami-Dade Education Coalition (MDEC) — was subsequently granted a spot on the ballot alongside UTD. 

The Freedom Foundation spent three months conducting a full-scale campaign that included an intensive door-to-door campaign to ensure teachers in the Miami-Dade school district were aware of their options for workplace representation. Educators and support staff welcomed canvassers at their doors, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to challenge UTD’s monopoly on their workplace representation. 

From memories of past UTD scandals to criticisms of the union’s outlandish dues rate and politically partisan activities steered by its national affiliates — the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) — educators and support staff in Miami are thrilled to have their voices heard for the first time in almost 50 years.

The nation’s third-largest teachers union, UTD collected $10.7 million in dues in 2022, of which it paid $2.3 million in salaries to union staff.

Even more egregiously, another $5.3 million was funneled out of the district and into the coffers of NEA and AFT, which used it to fund a radically liberal political agenda all over the country. Objection to the union’s political spending is a significant contributor to the dissatisfaction among teachers, and it explains UTD’s difficulty in getting legislative support. As UTD has found, financially supporting losing candidates and policies is not a recipe for success.  

With an election between UTD and MDEC now set to take place between Aug. 13 and Sept. 24, MDEC’s campaign is primed and ready to move into high gear.

Teacher support for the prospect of ridding themselves of UTD has been overwhelming. During the MDEC campaign,  nearly 200 public employees in Florida have chosen to cancel their union membership, with most of them being educators and more than half from UTD.

Meanwhile, even as UTD has been fighting for its very life, more educators than ever are leaving without even being prompted. 

“The patriotism and pride we’ve seen from Miami-Dade educators has been inspiring,” said Freedom Foundation Director of Special Projects Rusty Brown, who is spearheading the local effort. “The teachers we’ve spoken with truly value the principles of freedom and self-determination, and that clearly extends to their workplace, where they’d like the choice to replace UTD entirely.” 

In a recent press conference, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced an increase in state funding for teacher salaries, explaining that funds previously earmarked for teacher raises were diverted by UTD officers to enrich their own ranks. This deceitful practice has allowed UTD officers to boost their pension plan payouts on the backs of dues-payers. 

In fact, UTD officers have gone beyond simply diverting membership dues to their own uses; they have been caught reporting different salary amounts to various government agencies.

Not only could their apparent misreporting prove to be unlawful, but it may also lead to UTD having its certification revoked and its name removed from the ballot., pending resolution of a complaint recently filed with the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC). 

With so much at stake for both teachers and government unions in Florida, the Freedom Foundation remains focused on the battle at hand — replacing UTD.

And rest assured, we’ll be there through the finish line doing whatever it takes. 

National Outreach Director
Before joining the Freedom Foundation, Matthew worked as supervisor at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, where he coordinated efforts between federal and state agencies, tribes, and volunteer organizations in the Puget Sound. Grassroots politics has provided Matthew with many unique and sometimes controversial experiences. These experiences range from successfully building coalitions between different factions to training and organizing volunteers to maximize their effectiveness. Matthew’s passion for freedom to educate citizens about their Constitutional rights is strong and unwavering. “I not only measure success by results, bu t by the integrity of the action taken to achieve the result.” —Matthew H.