The Freedom Foundation, a national watchdog group specializing in government union abuses, is urging state attorneys across Florida to investigate local teachers’ unions for allegedly committing acts of perjury and racketeering.
“The state has a unique set of laws that are supposed to make it easier for workers to replace their union if it’s no longer performing,” explained Rusty Brown, the Freedom Foundation’s National Outreach Coordinator. But the way the program is administered, the unions are essentially allowed to police themselves, which defeats the whole purpose.”
In Florida, unions are required to apply for recertification every year through the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC). Teachers’ unions have an additional requirement to include on their application the total number of teachers represented in their districts as well as the total number of dues-paying members.
If the membership falls below 50 percent, Brown noted, a recertification process is triggered automatically, and the unions will have 30 days to submit a showing of interest signed by 30 percent of the total number of teachers employed in the district, followed by a simple majority election.
If the union is unable to submit a proper showing, it will be automatically decertified as the legal bargaining representative.
“The state of Florida has sought to ensure its public sector employees are never forced into a position that their livelihoods are controlled by a union they feel doesn’t have their best interest at heart,” Brown said. “The problem is the report on the membership ratio is entirely self-generated by the unions with no system of checks and balances to verify the accuracy of the numbers.”
Through a series of public records requests at the state and district levels, the Freedom Foundation has uncovered evidence of multiple locals — all under the aegis of the Florida Education Association — overstating their membership, presumably to avoid triggering the recertification process where their members would have the opportunity to vote them out.
Lying on this form amounts to perjury, a serious crime in its own right. Even worse, falsifying a series of reports over multiple years resulting in financial gain is the textbook definition of racketeering under Florida law and could prompt legal action under the same RICO laws that brought down notorious mobster John Gotti.
The Freedom Foundation has filed a series of complaints across the state of Florida encouraging state attorneys to investigate these false reports.
“If you had to pick an entity to operate with little or no public oversight, you’d be hard-pressed to find a worse candidate than government employee unions in general and teachers’ unions in particular,” Brown said.
“The series of false reports filed by the unions only provide further evidence of the necessity for union accountability,” Brown concluded.