Florida Senate committee declines to take up House-passed public-sector union bill

Florida Senate committee declines to take up House-passed public-sector union bill  

The Florida House of Representatives passed HB 1197 on March 4. It was referred to the Senate Rules Committee, which did not take the bill up during its last scheduled meeting of the session on March 8. 

About the bill

Republican Reps. Cord Byrd and Scott Plakon sponsored HB 1197, which would have required public employees intending to join a union to sign an authorization form containing the following language:

“I acknowledge and understand that Florida is a right-to-work state and that union membership is not required as a condition of employment. I understand that union membership and payment of union dues and assessments are voluntary and that I may not be discriminated against in any manner if I refuse to join or financially support a union.”

The bill would also have required unions to allow public employees to end their membership by a written request, prevented employers from deducting union dues from employees’ wages, and amended requirements for bargaining agent recertification and union registration renewal. 

The bill made exceptions for unions representing law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and firefighters. 

About the legislative process

HB 1197, which was filed in the House on Jan. 5, received favorable reports from the Government Operations Subcommittee, State Administration & Technology Appropriations Subcommittee, and State Affairs Committee. The House passed the bill with a technical amendment on March 4. The vote was 60-47, with seven Republicans voting against the bill. 

After passing the House, HB 1197 was referred to the Senate Rules Committee. The Rules Committee met for its last scheduled meeting of the session on March 8. The committee chair, Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R), did not take up the bill. Twelve Republicans and five Democrats serve on the committee. A similar bill died in the Rules Committee in 2021.

March 11 is the last day of the Florida Legislature’s 2022 regular session. Bills that are not passed do not carry over to the next session. The next regular session will convene on March 7, 2023. 

Republicans have had trifecta control of Florida’s government since 2011. The party holds a 78-41 majority in the House and a 24-15 majority in the Senate. 

Perspectives

Supporting

According to radio station WMNF, “House Bill sponsor Plakon [said] the bill would provide ‘greater transparency, accountability and democracy’ and modernize the process of dues deductions.” 

Rep. Byrd said, “This legislation recognizes teachers’ and other public employees’ rights to speak for themselves, choose how their hard-earned paychecks are spent, and participate in transparent elections to determine what union – if any – is best suited to represent their interests.” 

A March 4 press release from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy said the bill “[aimed] to make The Sunshine State’s public workplaces among the freest in the nation by protecting the First Amendment rights of teachers and other public employees. … Workers for Opportunity, a national initiative of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, [applauded] the advance of this important bill and the efforts of House leaders to prioritize the protection of these fundamental workplace freedoms.”  

Opposing

Florida Politics’ Jesse Scheckner wrote, “Opponents contended the bill represented a ‘cynical attempt to break up unions.’ And because the professions it would omit are all male-dominated fields, some argued it could face legal challenges that it violates the 14th Amendment’s ‘equal protection’ clause.”

Florida National Organization for Women representative Barbara DeVane said, “This is a very discriminatory bill — very misogynistic bill. … The war on women still rages in the Florida Legislature.” 

Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association president Rob Kriete said, “Our public workers, our teachers, our support professionals, have been the heroes of this pandemic. We are calling on all lawmakers in Florida to give them the respect and the support that they deserve and not government harassment. They’ve been doing the hard work they’ve been meeting the needs of our students in our communities, and we ask [lawmakers] to continue to respect their constitutional rights.”

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 128 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue.

  • California AB1714: This bill would allow unions representing excluded state employees to request arbitration with the Department of Human Resources in certain circumstances.  
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee hearing scheduled for March 16.   
  • California SB1406: This bill would allow unions representing excluded state employees to request arbitration with the Department of Human Resources in certain circumstances.   
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Referred to the Senate Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee on March 9.  
  • Connecticut SB00319: This bill would require municipal arbitration to be resolved within six months of when the proceedings on the case began. 
    • Introduced by the Labor and Public Employees Committee.
    • Joint Labor and Public Employees Committee public hearing held March 8.  
  • Florida H1197: This bill would require certain public employees to sign an authorization form before joining a union acknowledging that union membership is not a condition for employment and that membership and dues are voluntary. It would require unions to allow certain public employees to end their membership by a written request. The bill would also prevent employers from deducting dues from certain employees’ paychecks. It would also amend requirements for bargaining agent recertification and union registration renewal. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Passed House as amended, referred to Senate Rules Committee March 4, not taken up in March 8 meeting. 
  • Indiana SB0297: This bill would amend the language of the authorization form school employees must sign before union dues may be deducted from their pay.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Governor Eric Holcomb (R) signed March 7. 
  • Kansas SB511: This bill would establish that public employees may revoke authorization for employers to withhold union dues from their wages by submitting a written or emailed request to the employer, and employers must immediately cease withholding dues. The bill requires public employers to provide an annual written notification of rights and a request form to employees. The bill also requires public employees to annually renew their dues withholding authorization by signing a form with language stipulated by the bill. Employers must confirm the authorization by email before withholding dues. 
    • Sponsored by the Federal and State Affairs Committee.
    • Senate Commerce Committee hearing scheduled for March 15. 
  • Kentucky SB7:This bill would prohibit public employers from deducting union dues or fees from an employee’s pay without written authorization by way of an authorization-for-withholding form described in the bill. Employees would be able to revoke authorization at any time. The bill would also prevent public employers from assisting unions in collecting payments or personal information to be used to fund political activities.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • First reading, returned to Senate Economic Development, Tourism, & Labor Committee March 9. 
  • Kentucky SB362: This bill would remove current restrictions on public employee collective organizing and strikes. It would repeal requirements for dues deduction authorizations. It would prevent state law from prohibiting public employers and local governments from requiring union membership for employment. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Referred to Senate Economic Development, Tourism, & Labor Committee March 7.
  • Louisiana HB663: This bill would allow public employees to resign from union membership and revoke dues deduction authorizations at any time. It would require employees to annually renew dues deduction authorizations by signing a form described in the bill. The public employer would be required to confirm the authorization by email.     
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Prefiled, provisionally referred to House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee March 4.
  • Maryland HB1225: This bill would extend collective bargaining rights to certain Harford County Public Library employees. It would prohibit employees from striking. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Appropriations Committee hearing held March 8. 
  • Minnesota HF2005: This bill would require public employers to provide certain personnel data to unions. It would require public employers to give unions access to employees, including through worksite meetings, new employee orientations, and email. It would require public employers to rely on information from unions about authorization and cancellation of deductions rather than requests from individual employees. It would also stipulate that unions are not liable for fees collected under state law before Janus v. AFSCME.
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House State Government Finance and Elections Committee hearing held March 10. 
  • New Hampshire HB1041: This bill would extend the public employee labor relations act to cover nonpartisan employees of the New Hampshire legislature. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • House Legislative Administration Committee reported “Inexpedient to Legislate” on March 4. 
  • New Jersey S2229: This bill would establish the “New Jersey Right to Work Act.” It would prohibit employers from requiring union membership as a condition of employment. The bill would also prohibit public employers from withholding union dues or fees from employees’ wages. 
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Introduced, referred to Senate Labor Committee March 7. 
  • Oklahoma SB1579: This bill would allow school boards to grant unpaid leaves of absence for employees to hold office in an employee association if certain criteria are met. An employee organization would be required to comply with this law in order to be recognized as the representative of a bargaining unit.
    • Republican sponsorship. 
    • Senate passed March 7. First reading in the House March 8. 
  • Washington HB2124: This bill, which would give state legislative branch employees the right to bargain collectively, would create an office of state legislative labor relations to “[e]xamine issues related to collective bargaining for employees of the house of representatives, the senate, and legislative agencies” and to “develop best practices and options for the legislature to consider in implementing and administering collective bargaining.” A final report would be due to the legislature by October 1, 2023. No collective bargaining agreement could take effect until July 1, 2025. Employees would not be allowed to strike. 
    • Democratic sponsorship. 
    • Senate Ways & Means Committee reported “do pass with amendment” March 7. Held on third reading March 9.



About the author

Janie Valentine

Janie Valentine is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.