Limiting Educators’ Freedoms, SB 256

What the Bill Does

  • SB 256 (full text) eliminates educators’ freedom to have union dues deducted from their paycheck.
  • SB 256/HB 1445 requires union membership density to be at least 60% or risk decertification.
  • HB 1445 prohibits the distribution of any union literature at worksites (this language was amended out of SB 256). 
  • Educators currently have the right to have payments for many items such as health insurance, life insurance, gym membership, union dues and much more deducted directly from their paychecks. In some counties, there are more than 500 options available to educators for payroll deductions, and this bill attacks just one of them – the right to pay union dues in the manner of the educator’s choosing.
  • The provisions of SB 256/HB 1445 apply to all public sector unions except for those representing police, firefighters and corrections officers.
  • While SB 256/HB 1445 does not yet have a fiscal analysis, a similar bill from last year was estimated to cost almost $824,815 because additional staff will need to be hired to deal with increased paperwork at the Public Employees Relations Commission. Because SB 256/HB 1445 requires significant additional paperwork beyond last year’s bill, the cost of SB 256/HB 1445 would likely be much higher. 

Vote History

SB 256

  • 5-3; Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee; 3-7-23
  • 14-6; Senate Fiscal Policy Committee; 3-16-23

HB 1445

  • 10-5; House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee; 3-16-23

What’s Next

  • SB 256 will be up for a final vote in the Senate on Wednesday, March 29.
  • HB 1445 has one committee stop left, the State Affairs Committee. The bill will likely be heard in committee on March 31, though the agenda for the meeting has not yet been released. 

Talking Points

  • Gov. DeSantis time and again finds ways to silence people who disagree with him.  He supports SB 256 because he wants to silence and diminish the power of union members. SB 256 threatens Floridians’ constitutional right to join a union and collectively bargain their working conditions, salaries and benefits. 
  • The purpose of SB 256 is to silence workers’ (educators’) voices. Gov. DeSantis continues to show that anyone who is not in lockstep with him will face his ire. Whether the target is Disney, an elected state attorney, school board members, school district superintendents or now our caring teachers and staff, his M.O. has been ‘do what I say, or else.’ While Gov. DeSantis seeks to punish and divide, we seek to unite. 
  • No matter what school or grade level they work in, every educator in Florida deserves to have a voice in their workplace, be supported and have the resources they need to provide meaningful lessons and be paid a professional salary that allows them to live in the community where they work. More than 150,000 teachers, staff and professors in Florida have found their voice by joining their local, state and national unions. 
  • FEA and the overwhelming majority of Florida’s parents remain focused on ensuring that all children — regardless of race, background, gender identity, sexual orientation, ZIP code or ability — get the education they deserve and need at fully resourced and staffed public schools. 
  • Florida continues to face a critical shortage of teachers and support staff, with hundreds of thousands of students in classrooms without a professionally trained teacher. Instead of improving under Gov. DeSantis, the problem has accelerated. In January 2018, there were 1,492 teaching vacancies advertised on school district websites throughout Florida. As of January 2023, that number stands at 5,294.  

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