The state of Florida is at it again.
The state continues to throw taxpayer dollars at its failed policies. Late last week, it was reported in a Tampa Bay Times blog that the state’s new lawyers in our case challenging the legality of SB 736, question whether the teachers who filed the suit have legal standing to do so. "Plaintiffs lack standing to bring a lawsuit as individuals challenging the constitutionality of Senate Bill 736 as Article I, section 6 does not grant individual employees a right to collectively bargain," attorney Michael Mattimore writes in his filing . He also suggests the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction in the case, and that the plaintiffs have waived their right to sue based on their own collective bargaining agreements.
This is another example of the state wanting to find a way out of defending the provisions of SB 736 in court. We’re scheduled to have a hearing on the case next month, but the state and its political leaders want to find a way to squirm out of defending SB 736 in that hearing and have the whole lawsuit dismissed on a technicality. Our lawyers will challenge this attempt and look forward to arguing the case in court.
FEA will not back down on challenging SB 736.
FEA contends that provisions of the bill passed in 2011 by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott are unconstitutional because they deny teachers their right to effective collective bargaining on wages and terms and conditions of employment. The lawsuit asserts that the Legislature enacted legislation that was unconstitutional when it passed SB 736, which substantially changed wages, employment contracts, performance evaluations, promotions and workforce reduction provisions that had been previously negotiated between teachers and local school districts. These changes swept away the right of employees to negotiate their wages and terms and conditions of employment, a right that is guaranteed and protected by the Florida Constitution. The changes that lawmakers pushed through should have been collectively bargained between school districts and teachers. SB 736 was passed with no input from teachers and other experts in the field. It was part of a coordinated national effort to diminish the teaching field.
Unlike the state, FEA looks forward to our day in court. We believe that the courts will agree with us that legislative leaders and the governor went beyond their authority in passing and implementing this law.