USS Big Labor Titanic taking States on a Ride to the Bottom
‘The People Who Can Leave Are Leaving’
Union Boss-Dominated Garden State Faces Economic Death Spiral
Public support for the principle that membership in and
financial support for a labor organization should be matters of individual
choice has deep roots in Florida.
In 1944, Florida and Arkansas became the first two of the 27
states, so far, to protect employees’ Right to Work. The Sunshine and Razorback
States acted more than two-and-a-half years before the U.S. Congress explicitly
gave the green light for such protections in the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.
The Right to Work principle is even enshrined in the Florida
But for many years now, government union bosses have
undercut Florida’s and other states’ Right to Work laws by wielding their
government-granted monopoly-bargaining privileges to extract so-called
“official time” (sometimes also referred to as “release time”) deals from
Official-time schemes enable government employees who are
also union officials to be paid by taxpayers to advance the interests of the
union rather than the missions of their agencies.
Taxpayer Money Finances Union Grievance Cases Against Taxpayer-Funded
Last year, in response to public-records requests they
received from the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute
(CEI), Miami-Dade County, the City of Jacksonville, and the City of Tampa
admitted they do not even try to monitor the activities union agents conduct on
the taxpayer dime.
And the cost to taxpayers is substantial, as CEI policy
analyst Trey Kovacs reported in a commentary early this March:
“In FY 2014, FY 2015, and FY 2016, Miami-Dade County
employees spent nearly 100,000 hours on release time each year, at a cost to
taxpayers of $3.2 million, $3.1 million, and $2.9 million, respectively.”
In Jacksonville and Tampa, “the cost of release time
amounted to several hundred thousand dollars annually.”
Jacksonville’s pact with several government unions
explicitly authorizes union agents to be paid by taxpayers while they pursue
grievance cases against taxpayer-funded agencies!
National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King
“The most effective single solution for anti-taxpayer
official-time schemes and a host of other related Big Labor abuses is to
prohibit all union monopoly bargaining in government workplaces.
“Without so-called ‘exclusive union representation’ power to
codetermine with public employers the terms and conditions of employment for
union nonmembers as well as members, Big Labor officials find it relatively
difficult to grab official-time privileges.
“A good first step would be simply to prohibit government
union officials from wielding their monopoly-bargaining power to extract
official-time deals from public employers.
“That’s the approach of H.B.13, legislation introduced this
year by pro-Right to Work Florida state Rep. Jayer Williamson [R-Pace].”
Apologists For Official Time Will Fight Tooth and Nail to
“Mr. Williamson’s bill,” continued Ms. King, “would simply
prohibit public employers from cutting deals with Big Labor that permit
government employees who are also union activists from getting paid by
taxpayers to attend union conventions, lobby for union boss-favored
legislation, or conduct other union business.
“On March 6, H.B.13 was reported favorably out of the
Florida House Oversight, Transparency, & Public Management Subcommittee.
Subsequently, National Right to Work contacted every Florida House member to
urge support for this measure.
“But union-label politicians will fight tooth and nail to
perpetuate Big Labor’s release-time privileges.
“At the subcommittee hearing, one member actually dared to
claim that the Florida government union operatives who are currently taking
taxpayers’ money for union work are ‘volunteers,’ and thus insinuated that
opponents of release time are opposed to ‘volunteering.’
“The reality, of course, is that volunteers are people who
work for free. Public employees who are paid to conduct union business cannot
legitimately be labeled as ‘volunteers.’
“Today, thanks to the National Right to Work Legal Defense
Foundation’s 2018 Supreme Court victory in Janus, public employees have
a recognized First Amendment right not to subsidize union advocacy directed at
“Official-time schemes that force taxpayers to subsidize such Big Labor advocacy are just plain wrong. The Committee will do everything feasible to help the people of Florida and the other 49 states stop them.”