Stubbornly Clinging to Florida Teachers’ Wallets

Gov. DeSantis is vowing to help public educators cut off all financial support for government unions they don’t support. Currently, it can take a Florida teacher months or even years to cease bankrolling Big Labor. (Credit: Matt Johnson/Wikimedia Commons)

Union Bosses Battle to Protect ‘Payroll Deduction’ Privileges

Just since 2019, well over 9,000 additional Florida public school educators have expressed their dissatisfaction with the hierarchy of the Florida Education Association (FEA/NEA/AFT) teacher union in the clearest possible way — that is, by refusing to bankroll it with their hard-earned pay.

As a consequence of this exodus of active K-12 school employees, between the 2019-20 and 2021-22 academic years, the number of working, dues-paying FEA union members fell from 138,641 to 129,445, or 6.6%. 

Gov. DeSantis, Other Florida Leaders Strive to Curtail Union-Boss Special Privileges

But FEA union bosses’ losses of power and dues money could have been far more severe had educators been fully free to exercise their right, under Florida’s Constitution and the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, to quit and cut off their financial support.

That’s why grassroots Florida Right to Work supporters and their allies in Tallahassee are now striving to make it less difficult not just for K-12 government school employees, but for all public servants in the state, to exit unwanted unions.

Last November, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis soundly defeated his Big Laborbacked challenger, ex-Gov. Charlie Crist, to win a second term in office. He is now focusing heavily on reforming how union bosses operate within Florida’s government, especially in its public schools and universities.

In conjunction with a proposed teacher pay raise, DeSantis is seeking to advance several reforms through the Florida Legislature. The most important would stop government schools and universities from serving as Big Labor’s dues collectors by making “automatic payroll deductions” from educators’ salaries illegal.

Union Brass Apoplectic at Potential Curtailment of Taxpayer-Funded Largesse

Another reform would ban “union time” deals under which union officials who are also public employees are paid by taxpayers to conduct union business. A third reform would ensure teachers are informed of their constitutional right not to join or bankroll a union in order to serve the public before they consent to becoming members of the FEA or any other government union.

(Right to Work members can follow legislative action in Florida and every other state by going to the Committee website — — where all Right to Work-related state legislative action is tracked.)

Government union bosses are furiously attacking the governor’s and other elected officials’ efforts to promote transparency and educators’ free association. Miami- Dade teachers union boss Karla Hernandez-Mats, who was Mr. Crist’s running mate during his unsuccessful challenge to Mr. DeSantis last year, has gone so far as to accuse the governor of “destroying” public education! To thwart efforts to ensure educators are able to exercise their constitutional right not to bankroll a union, union militants are now “working to rule,” thus making extracurricular activities impossible. This hurts the children they claim to support.

Florida union bosses are determined to protect “automatic payroll deduction” schemes because they make it possible for Big Labor to block educators who are union members from exercising their First Amendment freedom to resign and stop forking over money to the union for 350 or more days out of each year.

Committee Backs Efforts To Rein in Union Abuses In Florida and Elsewhere

But National Right to Work Committee Vice President John Kalb vowed that the Committee and its members in Florida would lobby Sunshine State lawmakers to end this abusive practice as well as “union time.”

Legislation abolishing these Big Labor special privileges in K-12 government schools could come up for floor votes as soon as this month.

Mr. Kalb added that Florida is just one of a number of states where legislation to roll back union monopolists’ control over government schools is expected to be considered this year.

Other state-level reforms backed by the Committee include two Oklahoma bills (S.B.972 and H.B.2529) that would prohibit all school districts in the state from recognizing any union as school employees’ monopoly-bargaining agent.

Meanwhile, Utah’s H.B.241 would abolish “automatic payroll deductions” and “union time” for all types of government union bosses.

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