(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — On March 16, the Florida Legislature made good on its promises to hold government unions accountable to the taxpayer who fund them by passing out of committee two companion bills that would curtail the influence of Big Labor over the state’s public workforce and, by extension, government at every level.
Senate Bill 256, authored by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, and House Bill 1445, sponsored by Rep. Dean Black, both Republicans, have now passed their first committee hearings and continue on their way to the Governor’s desk, sending a strong statement that public employee unions cannot command control over government employee paychecks and the politics the unions support with those union dues dollars.
The proposals, dubbed the “Paycheck Protection Bill,” includes language that would, among other things:
- prevent the state from deducting dues on behalf of unions from public employees’ paychecks, forcing unions to do their own billing and collections;
- require audits of unions representing public employees;
- require union membership cards to include wording echoing the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which recognized the right of public employees to decline union membership, due and fees with no loss of representation or benefits;
- limit the compensation of union officers to no more than their highest-paid member; and,
- close the legal loopholes unions use to prevent members from voting to decertify them.
Florida lawmakers have considered similar bills in the past without success, but the GOP currently holds decisive advantages in both the House and Senate.
Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, issued a statement characterizing the bill as “…an attack, pure and simple, on educators’ basic freedoms and rights.”
“This bill is the farthest thing from attacking teachers,” said Rusty Brown, Southern Director of the Freedom Foundation. “If you have a plumber come by and they can’t get your shower to drain, you can find a new one. If someone repairs your air conditioner but it’s still blowing hot air, you find someone else. But if you don’t like the way your union is representing you, too bad, you’re stuck with them.”
“This bill aims to fix that taking unions with low support and asking the people they represent if they would like to explore other options,” concluded Brown. “That’s it. This bill is about giving a voice to employees that the union has no interest in hearing from because they have families too and they deserve to be heard.”