Union Station: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) says he favors legislation prohibiting paycheck deductions for teachers union dues

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Note: The next edition of Union Station will be on Jan. 6, 2023. Until then, happy holidays!

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) says he favors legislation prohibiting paycheck deductions for teachers union dues

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) spoke in favor of legislation that would prohibit paycheck deductions for teachers union dues in a speech in Orlando on Dec. 19. 

DeSantis’ statements 

The Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee sponsored an event titled “The Freedom Blueprint: DeSantis Education Agenda School Board Retreat” in Orlando on Dec. 19. While addressing retreat participants—including school board members and potential candidates—DeSantis discussed a proposal to prohibit paycheck deductions for teachers union dues. 

DeSantis said, “[S]o what we want to do … is do a paycheck protection legislation which says …  you do not have to join [a] teachers union, but if you do … the government [doesn’t] want to play a role in deducting anybody’s money. So you write a check … every month for the dues and you do it that way. And that maximizes freedom to choose, and I think it’ll be a more accurate reflection of who actually wants to be a part of this.” He also said this legislation would create “more of a guarantee that that money is going to actually go to those teachers” and not be “frittered away by interest groups who get involved into the school system.” He said, “I think those will be really really positive reforms[.] … I think we’re going to get big, big support in the legislature.”

According to the News Service of Florida, “The Legislature has considered similar proposals since at least 2011, but they have not passed. … The proposals have drawn fierce opposition from unions and Democrats, as such changes could make it harder for unions to get funded.”

Florida’s next legislative session begins in March 2023. A union dues bill has not yet been filed.

Prior legislation

One previous version of the proposal, Republican-sponsored HB 1197, passed the Florida House of Representatives in March 2022 but died in the Senate Rules Committee later that month. 

The bill included the following language: “Except as authorized in subsection (2), an employee organization that has been certified as a bargaining agent may not have its dues and uniform assessments deducted and collected by the employer from the salaries of those employees in the unit. Public employees may pay their dues and uniform assessments directly to the employee organization that has been certified as their bargaining agent.” 

The bill, which was not specific to teachers unions, made exceptions for unions representing law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and firefighters. It also would have required public employees intending to join a union to sign an authorization form with language specified in the legislation. 

To read more about the bill in an earlier edition of Union Station, click here



  • Building Education for Students Together executive director Laura Zorc said, “If teachers had to write the check directly to the union they will be more likely to question every month if it’s really worth the money. … Once forced with this decision many will realize it’s a waste of money and pocket their own hard earned cash.”
  • Americans for Fair Treatment interim CEO Elisabeth Messenger said, “Automatic dues deduction uses government resources to make it easier for unions to recruit and retain members and creates confusion for workers who may think their workplace union is endorsed by their employer or that membership is required by their employer. … In signing this legislation, Governor DeSantis would be taking a huge step in protecting teachers’ private information and ensuring the Florida state government is not a middleman in funding partisan politics.”


  • The Florida Education Association said, “The past few weeks, FEA has been asking educators to fill out a wishlist with what they’re hopeful for in 2023. Common themes have been less testing, more resources and support, more stability — all things that would help us better serve our students and alleviate the teacher and staff shortage. Gov. DeSantis, however, appears to prioritize politics. Only a Grinch would attack teachers’ freedom to join in [sic] union to advocate for our students and schools.”
  • First-grade teacher Shari Gewanter said, “This is a ridiculous diversion away from what really needs to happen, which is to properly fund our public schools to attract and retain teachers into this profession.”
  • Middle school teacher and local union treasurer Sandra Meador said, “I’m more concerned with keeping the teachers that I mentor that are so good and deserve a future and education. … Teaching is a wonderful profession. And it doesn’t need to turn into a political battle.” 

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 150 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. 

We’ll be back in January with 2023 legislation.

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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

Recent legislative actions

No public-sector union bills saw activity this week.

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