(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — After a multi-year battle, the Freedom Foundation has worked hard to help Florida lawmakers pass the most aggressive state labor reform bill the United States has seen in more than a decade to push back the union stranglehold over state government and bring more union accountability to Florida government employees.
The legislation is now headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk, where he is expected to sign it into law.
House bill 1445 and Senate Bill 256, both sponsored by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia and Rep. Dean Black, require government employee unions to prove on a yearly basis at least 60 percent of workers in the affected bargaining unit are dues-paying members — and triggers a decertification vote if they aren’t.
Additionally, the bills end the automatic government union dues deductions from public-sector employee paychecks. Similar “paycheck protection” measures have recently become law in Kentucky and Arkansas, with others being considered in Tennessee and Oklahoma.
“If HB 1445, the House companion to SB 256 that passed the Senate a couple weeks ago, becomes law, it will immediately help government employees hold their union accountable with financial transparency and recertification requirements as well as keep even more of their hard-earned money by stopping union dues from automatically being deducted from employees’ paychecks,” explained Rusty Brown, southern director of the Freedom Foundation.
“And if public-sector employees want to remain members,” Brown said, “they simply sign up for dues payments with the union directly. There’s no need to have the government taking part in the process.”
Teachers’ unions have been the biggest opponents of the bills because, for the first time, the union would be in a position of proving annually that they provide a service for which their customers wish to keep paying. Also, it’s easier for unsatisfied customers to pull the plug on their dues payments, or part ways from the union entirely, just as they would their cable company or any other service provider.
Teachers across the country have been leaving their unions in droves as they grow tired of the political agenda unions have increasingly pushed on school districts. Since the COVID school shutdowns began in March 2020, more than 141,000 teachers have quit their memberships in the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
AFT president Randi Weingarten appeared before Congress today in the House Oversight Committee to answer questions regarding her union’s role in keeping millions of American school children out of in-person education.
Brown continued, “HB 1445 ensures government employees have the opportunity to actually vote on whether or not they want to be represented by a union. Until recently, government unions held a monopoly on workplace representation and they’ve made it exceedingly difficult and time-consuming to resign membership and stop having dues deducted from employee paychecks.”
“It’s 2023,” Brown concluded. “There’s no reason for the government to be involved in collecting union dues when every other organization has managed to collect their own payments for years. What the teachers’ unions opposition really reveals is that they know a lot of people wouldn’t pay for membership if they had the opportunity to sit down and think about it.”
The reform package has been a priority of Gov. DeSantis’ throughout the legislative session.