Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed Senate Bill 256 on May 9. In part, the bill says that except for unions representing law enforcement officers, correctional officers, correctional probation officers, and firefighters — which are exempted from the bill’s provisions — “[A]n 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. A public employee may pay dues and uniform assessments directly to the employee organization that has been certified as the bargaining agent.”
The bill also requires public-sector employees wanting to belong to a union to sign a membership authorization form, requires unions to allow members to revoke membership at any time, requires unions to provide members with an annual audited financial statement, and amends registration and renewal requirements for certified bargaining agents, including requiring recertification if the number of dues-paying union members is less than 60% of eligible employees in the unit.
DeSantis said on Twitter, “By signing the Paycheck Protection Act, Florida teachers will be able to choose how their hard-earned money is spent. School unions will no longer be able to hold teachers’ paychecks hostage with veiled threats while hiding where the money goes.”
On May 9, the Alachua County Education Association, United Faculty of Florida–University of Florida, United Faculty of Florida, and Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. A second group of unions filed a lawsuit in state court the same day.
- Americans for Prosperity-Florida state director Skylar Zander said, “Florida lawmakers have made a clear statement to prioritize the state’s workforce over the self-interest of unions.”
- Workers for Opportunity senior labor policy advisor Vincent Vernuccio said, “Democracy works, and this is union democracy at its best. … With this new law, Gov. DeSantis and state legislators are empowering Florida teachers to chart their own path forward and requiring more transparency from the unions that have the privilege of representing those teachers.”
- Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book (D) said, “The Legislature put hurdles in the way of many public unions, taking away voluntary automatic deductions and making it harder for them to exist by adding more red tape. … We can trust teachers to make their own personal choices in how they spend their hard-earned money, and attempting to silence the groups that advocate for better pay and better working conditions is unconstitutional and undemocratic.”
- Florida Education Association president Andrew Spar said, “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.”