TALLAHASSEE — The Florida House sealed the deal. When it comes to the governor’s political ambitions versus working people, working people lose. Senate Bill (SB) 256, passed by the House today and now set to become law, attempts to take away the right and even the ability of hundreds of thousands of Floridians to have a voice on the job through the unions they have opted to join. Now it’s just a question of how soon Gov. DeSantis will sign the bill his administration authored, and when legal actions against it begin.
“If you stand up for something the governor disagrees with, he retaliates. He’s shown that again and again, with Disney and elected officials, and now with public employees,” said Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association. “If Gov. DeSantis thinks he will silence us, he’s dead wrong. We will do everything in our power to guarantee that Florida’s teachers, staff, professors and all public employees have a voice in their workplaces. No matter the pushback, educators will continue to stand up for our students, our professions and public education.”
SB 256 is often summarized as a “dues” bill designed to take away the long-standing ability of union members to choose to have dues deducted from their paychecks, as are items ranging from insurance to gym memberships to charitable donations and sports tickets. But dues are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The bill has several other provisions primed to reduce or eliminate union members’ rights, such as requiring that an arbitrary 60-percent super majority of eligible employees pay dues in order for a union to exist.
SB 256 also requires that local unions submit audited financial statements that the Florida Senate’s resident accounting expert, CPA and Sen. Joe Gruters, estimates will cost locals $12,000 to $15,000 each to obtain, which is two or three times the annual revenue of some small unions. “The only intent of the bill is to kill off the unions here in Florida,” the senator observed before his chamber passed SB 256 in late March.
Like other targets of Gov. DeSantis’ ire, educators fully intend to fight back. “At this point, we are exploring all legal options, and we will do whatever we can to ensure that the voice of Florida’s hard-working families is not diminished by a dictator want-to-be who throws a fit when he doesn’t get his way,” Spar said.
CONTACT: Joni Branch, email@example.com, (850) 201-3223
The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.