(MIAMI, Fl.) – The United Teachers of Dade (UTD), the union representing school employees in Miami-Dade County, is getting increasingly desperate to boost union membership numbers ahead of a deadline that could ultimately determine its fate.
In recent weeks, UTD has blasted school employees with emails and text messages, hounded teachers in their schools during working hours (in violation of Florida law, § 447.509, F.S.), hosted organizing calls and even promised Amazon gift cards to the 30,000 Miami-Dade school employees it currently represents in an effort to increase their membership levels to 60 percent of the bargaining unit.
The 60 percent threshold is determined by Florida SB 256, which was signed into law earlier this year. If a public employee union’s active membership drops below 60 percent of the overall bargaining unit, a vote is held to determine whether the union should be recertified or disbanded.
One such email declared:
“Thanksgiving is all about the ‘Attitude of Gratitude’. So here is what we are doing to get us across the finish line to save the union that we are so grateful for. Despite the challenges we face, our union is working hard to reach 60% as we continue to seek ways to better serve our members every day. To achieve this, we are offering a special ‘Thanksgiving’ member recruitment incentive.”
The email then states the union will hand out gift cards for every new member recruited before November 17.
“If the union leadership had spent this much time and energy on workplace issues and representing their members as they are now while trying to hold onto power, they might not even be in this position,” said Allison Beattie, Freedom Foundation Director of Labor Relations.
UTD also held an organizing call on Nov. 9 with union president and former Lt. Gov candidate Karla Hernandez-Mats, Florida House Rep. Ashley Gantt, Sen. Dwight Bullard, and South Florida AFL-CIO president Jeffrey Mitchell.
Of the 30,000 invited, less than 90 people participated in the call, which announced phone banking hours and school visits to help union leaders “get people to understand the importance and the value of belonging to the union”.
On the call, union president Hernandez-Mats announced that fifty members of American Federation of Teachers—one of the two national organizations UTD is affiliated with—are scheduled to descend on Miami-Dade County on Sunday, November 12, as a last-ditch effort to convince reluctant educators to join UTD.
“They took their members for granted for decades,” concluded Beattie. “And now that Florida has empowered its teachers to shake off a corrupt and unaccountable union, they are scrambling to convince people to join.”