Freedom Foundation Helps Send America’s Third Largest Teachers’ Union Toward the Country’s Largest Decertification Vote

Freedom Foundation Helps Send America’s Third Largest Teachers’ Union Toward the Country’s Largest Decertification Vote
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Freedom Foundation Helps Send America’s Third Largest Teachers’ Union Toward the Country’s Largest Decertification Vote

(MIAMI, Fla.) – The House of Labor was stunned in December when United Teachers of Dade (UTD), the country’s third largest teachers’ union, failed to prove it had the support of 60 percent of teachers in the district, as required by a new Florida law enacted earlier this year.

The Freedom Foundation worked tirelessly with Florida lawmakers to enact SB 256, the most aggressive state labor reform bill since Wisconsin’s Act 10 under Gov. Scott Walker. Now, for the first time, a major union has been put in serious defense in the fight for its existence.

Under SB 256, government employee unions must meet a 60 percent membership threshold or face a vote of decertification. Additionally, the law ends automatic dues deductions from employee paychecks and requires the union to set up its own payment collection system, providing government employees an opportunity to consider whether they want to willingly sign up for payments.

“Florida public employee unions – and UTD in particular – vehemently fought against increased accountability at the state level and now we know why: they knew if union members were given the opportunity to choose where to spend their money, it would probably go toward groceries and gas, rather than enriching the union leadership and funding their pet projects,” said Allison Beattie, director of labor relations at the Freedom Foundation.

After Gov. Ron DeSantis held a lauded, public bill signing ceremony, the Freedom Foundation hit the ground running with emails, postcards, and door knockers to inform Florida government employees that they didn’t have to rejoin their union.

Several unions responded by suing to block the law from going into effect at the state and federal level, but both lawsuits were thrown out by the respective judges.

Soon, a group of Miami teachers approached the Freedom Foundation asking for help forming an alternative, local-only, apolitical association that keeps their dues in their district.

The Freedom Foundation and Miami teachers teamed up and the Miami-Dade Education Coalition (MDEC) was born.

UTD quickly recognized the threat MDEC posed and immediately began attacking the Freedom Foundation for the high crime of sending information to teachers in the district informing them of their rights, while also spreading misinformation that MDEC would be run by the Freedom Foundation. The UTD also offered $100 gift cards to members who signed up more teachers, and kicked the substitute teaching population out of the bargaining unit altogether, thereby lowering the number to meet the 60 percent threshold. In the final days before the report deadline, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) flew in dozens of staffers to boost sign-up efforts, to no avail.

“If United Teachers of Dade spent half as much time paying attention to their members’ interests as they have been pushing a political agenda with Randi Weingarten and running for office with Charlie Crist, they probably wouldn’t even be in this position,” continued Beattie. “Now, they’ve spent the last few months scrambling to get their unsatisfied customers back, and they couldn’t do it.”

Now, the largest teachers’ union in Florida is campaigning against a young start-up alternative teacher organization in the fight for its existence. According to SB 256, UTD must gather signed cards of interest from 30 percent of the teacher population, while the new MDEC must gather 10 percent of the same population, to be placed on the union certification ballot.

Like the AFT, the Freedom Foundation is mobilizing teams to help gather signatures on behalf of Miami teachers looking for an alternative organization.

The deadline for signatures is January 18, 2024, and a vote will be scheduled for later in the spring.