Contact: Mark Pudlow, 850.201.3223 or 850.508.9756 | March 25, 2011
TALLAHASSEE – The passage of HB 1021 by the Florida House on Friday is another sign of the growing hostility to our state’s public servants and the organizations they voluntarily choose to join, the president of the Florida Education Association said.
“This bill aims to do nothing more than silencing dissent,” said FEA President Andy Ford. “The lawmakers who voted for this bill have signaled their desire to use the power of government to single out and attack the hard working men and women who serve Florida in public employment.”
The bill, which is the House version of SB 830 in the Senate, would prohibit payroll deductions from public employees’ paychecks for union dues and also further restricts union political activity.
“Hundreds of businesses use payroll deduction to collect their fees for services that public employees choose,” Ford said, “But only unions face this restriction. The staff analysis of this bill says it all when it states: ‘Employee organizations are likely to have more difficulty collecting dues, fees, assessments and penalties from public employees. … Labor organizations are likely to have more difficulty collecting funds from employees for political purposes.’ There’s the real reason for this bill. Lawmakers want to erect barriers for teachers, public school employees, police officers, firefighters and nurses. It’s simply un-American.”
Ford noted that Florida is a right-to-work state and teachers and other public employees choose to join a union. They may drop their membership at any time.
“Senator John Thrasher, who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate, has said the bill takes state and local governments out of the business of collecting dues,” Ford said. “But we have to wonder: why is government going to still be in the business of collecting insurance premiums, charitable contributions and hundreds of other payroll deductions for private companies? And all these other companies and entities engage in politics and most give political contributions.”
Many financial institutions, insurance companies, businesses, colleges, charities and causes use payroll deduction to finance services that public employees choose to purchase.
“This action is beneath the Legislature,” Ford said. “Who will they silence next?”
The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with more than 140,000 members. FEA represents pre K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational support professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.