DeSantis Takes Aim at Teacher Union Dues

DeSantis Takes Aim at Teacher Union Dues

By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled that he will make a priority of passing a long-debated proposal that would prevent teachers from having union dues deducted from their paychecks.

DeSantis supported the proposal Monday during a speech in Orlando, describing it as “paycheck protection legislation.” The Florida Education Association and other teachers unions backed DeSantis’ Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist, in the Nov. 8 election, with Miami-Dade County teachers union leader Karla Hernandez serving as Crist’s running mate.

DeSantis also has battled unions in recent years about issues such as reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. During what was described as a “Freedom Blueprint” speech Monday, he tied the union-dues idea to raising pay for teachers during the 2023 legislative session.

“It’s more of a guarantee that that money is going to actually go to those teachers,” DeSantis said in the speech, posted online by the NTD television network. “It’s not going to be frittered away by interest groups who get involved in the school system. And so I think those will be really, really positive reforms, and we’re looking forward to doing that. And I think we’re going to get big, big support in the Legislature.”

Under such a proposal, teachers would have to pay union dues separately, making it less convenient. DeSantis said the proposal “maximizes freedom to choose, and I think it will be a more-accurate reflection of who actually wants to be part of this or not.”

The Legislature has considered similar proposals since at least 2011, but they have not passed. A proposal (HB 1197) during the 2022 session was approved by the House but did not make it through the Senate.

The proposals have drawn fierce opposition from unions and Democrats, as such changes could make it harder for unions to get funded.

“This is a union-busting bill,” then-Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said during a debate in January.

Past proposals also would have affected some other public-sector unions. The 2022 House bill, however, exempted unions representing law-enforcement officers, correctional officers, correctional probation officers and firefighters. DeSantis did not address other unions in his speech Monday.

While a bill addressing the union issues had not been filed as of Tuesday morning, DeSantis also indicated he supports setting a threshold for unions to represent teachers. That threshold would involve at least 50 percent of teachers being members of the unions.

“If they don’t have a majority of the teachers who are actually signing up to pay dues, it should be decertified,” DeSantis said. “You shouldn’t be able to continue as a zombie organization that doesn’t have the support of the people you are negotiating for.”

DeSantis did not provide details about his proposal for increasing pay during the 2023 session, which will start March 7.

In a somewhat-unusual step. DeSantis became heavily involved in helping elect some conservative school-board members in this year’s elections.

Republican lawmakers during the 2023 session will consider a renewed attempt to hold partisan school-board elections. Sen. Joe Gruters, a Sarasota Republican who doubles as chairman of the state GOP, and Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, have filed identical measures aimed at moving away from the system of non-partisan races.

If passed by the Legislature, the proposal would need voter approval in 2024 because it would be a constitutional amendment. School-board races are required to be nonpartisan contests under the Constitution.

18 Responses to "DeSantis Takes Aim at Teacher Union Dues"

  1. Let the teachers union do it like the state employees union, AFSCME. The employees don’t have to pay dues and are still represented by AFSCME.

  2. Why do unions think they are entitled to free accounting services to be provided by employers (taxpayers in the public sector)? If a teacher wishes to be in the union that is fine but, the union needs to bear the burden of collecting the dues. Hopefully this will pass and when it does, watch the union membership numbers plummet.

  3. @ a Skeptic
    True if State retirement is all you have.
    Most often 2 other items enter the retirement equation.
    Social Security and no mortgage or rent.
    The retirement hat trick is to own your home outright then the retired State worker is doing great.
    Most state retiree’s end up with much more disposable income in retirement once the additional incoming stream of Social Security is added along with the elimination of the outgoing stream of money for your paid off mortgage.

  4. @Concerned — It’s almost criminal that so many people in the Tallahassee area view getting a job with the state as “making it”. There are a lot of functions that can be done with state personnel, and a lot that are better left to the private sector. But viewing state employment as success is a testament to failure. After 10 years they tend to look around and think that there must be something better but their already 1/3 way to retirement. After 20 years they know there’s something better but now they’re committed to the retirement benefits that they can start drawing in only 10 more years. Soon they do the math and realize that they can’t retire on 48% of what they’re making now and go looking for promotions, depriving the state of someone with 20 years of application and moving into management with absolutely no experience or desire. You see this over and over and over again. That vicious cycle needs to be broken!!!

  5. Can we get the same 50% participation for state employees? The SE Union is the reason I could not help out with unemployment during 2020. I have worked for the state for almost 10 years, and I know no one who is in the union.

  6. @Pat. Interesting background you’ve got. It intersects with mine a bit. Back in the 80s I worked for a company that provided the computerized ATC training materials to the Air Force, et al. I spent a fair amount of time at Keesler AFB installing, maintaining, and updating the delivery medium (a mainframe at that time) and the courseware. I also got to know a lot of folks around the program. It was a very enjoyable time. Coincidentally, it had been my plan growing up to fly jets. At 16 my path was set. After high school I’d join the Air Force, fly jets, and retire out to fly commercial. Biology had other plans though as by graduation I’d grown too tall to fit in the front seat of any of the Air Force fighter jets. Being around the ATC school allowed me a closeup look at what “could have been”. 🙂

  7. Mr Pat

    My sibling was a civilian in the medical field. I visited many times to go to the beach where my family had access to a private beach. So peaceful and seafood was awesome!

  8. Excellant News…and that folks right here in this moment in history is one of the most powerful things you have ever seen or ever will see in your entire collective lives. Do not under estimate the earth shaking major change in the course of history regarding what our Govornor just dropped on the left is going to make.
    Union dues will fall way over 1/2 which will level the political world you have grown up with.
    Thank you best Govornor ever in the history of the planet.
    At least 1/2 of Florida’s teachers are normal everyday Americans who will be set free from the chains of the oppresive unions. The other 1/2 are the idiots who will mail the unions a check or go online and pay 12 times a year.
    Oh yeah the left is going to scream and holler, try to get leftist tool Federal Judge Hinkle to slow it down, try to desperatly get Congress to do something to stop it in the one week remaining while the left still holds the majority in the Federal House of Representatives.
    Relax your sphincters honest conservatives; America’s Govorner knew all about that…why do you think he dropped the most fearsome and most powerful bomb on the left at this time?
    Everybody just sit back and enjoy the show as all the leftist powers that be collectively loose what remains of their minds in the days and weeks to come.
    Just my own usual color comentary and personal opinion follows: “I feel for all leftists everywhere the biggest, stinkiest, longest +urd imaginable is going to hit the proverable fan begining with tomorrow morning’s news shows…enjoy the upcoming freak show and Thank You So Much Govornor Desantis!”

  9. As someone else stated, teachers are not forced to join a union in FL. To be honest, how things are with hamstringing teachers, there is no incentive to join the union as a teacher with no tenure, a union lawyer is going to be no help for you to have anything done. The ones with tenure though have things in order to keep their career in place with xyz that a union can help them. So 70-80 a month it is to join is way too much in this lovely inflation economy. At some point, not sure what the % is, if a number of teachers do not join, the union is disbanded. That is what they keep floating around anyway to scare people into it. Can anyone confirm this as true that the unions need a certain % to join to keep it alive?

  10. ~ The proposals have drawn fierce opposition from unions and Democrats, as such changes could make it harder for unions to get funded.

    “This is a union-busting bill,” then-Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, said…”

    The obvious questions are… why are unions and Marxicrats so opposed to individuals making their own choice? Is it not incumbent upon unions to collect their dues, not expect their dues? If union members support their unions – and more importantly, how their dues are spent – then why would you expect that they would not continue to pay their dues? How is letting individuals control how and when to pay their union dues a “union-buster”?

    Does anyone allow McDonalds automatically deduct the cost of a #3 Meal from your paycheck with the assumption that you’ll be by at some point to pick it up?

  11. For the record … Teachers in Florida are not forced to join a union. If they choose to join THEN their dues are withheld. I am not aware of how things work for the police and other groups mentioned but if teachers are singled out then the reason is obvious.

  12. Unions served a valuable service at their inception. Work time limitations, OT compensation, safety assurances, reasonable benefits, et al were – or should have been – an expected part of the evolution of the industrial revolution. However, unions crossed the line (so to speak) as they dove ever deeper into the game of politics and grew ever so greedy with their unreasonable compensatory associated demands. Politicians being politicians caved to the greedy and unreasonable demands in search of the coveted “endorsements”, campaign donation checks, and volunteer sign waivers… turning many union organizations and their so-called leaders into purchasable products on the political game of corruption.

    That said; No one should EVER be “forced” to join a union and thus forced to pay dues.

  13. @N. Weed, my brother was offerred an aircraft maintence job with Eastern just prior to going t1ts up. He declined the offer and went to work for PHI in the gulf. While at Cherry Point, one classmate of mine was also stationed there. Leon class 1977. What squadron was he/she with? I may know him/her.

  14. Mr Pat

    Thank you for your service! My sibling was also at Cherry Point at the same time.

    The union put Eastern Airlines out of business.

  15. @A Skeptic. On August 3, 1981, I was a very young Sergeant in the Marine Corps with 4 years experience working RADAR Approach Control at MCAS Cherry Point and in the Control tower. The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization lead 12,000 very highly paid air controllers on an illegal strike that cost them the best job in the world. In 1985, I traded my SSGT uniform for a civilian job. During my 33 years steering airplanes through the sky from Miami to Anchorage, I have been a Union Member, Local Union President, Supervisor and Second Level District Manager. I know Unions and I am not crazy about them. What is important is our next President is a Republican. So what’s the point of mess’n with the union? Find something that earns 270 electorial votes and fight for that. Let’s start winning!

  16. @Pat — The unions are just a political arm of the Democrat party. I have no problem with Florida, a right to work state, declining to automatically withhold and forward teacher’s union dues. If teacher’s have to actually write that check every month they may acquire a better understanding of how much money they’re giving up. The unions do need funding to exist and do their “job”. If 30% of the teachers decided that they don’t need to be paying the union every month the unions would survive just fine, and a huge pot of money wouldn’t be handed to the Democrats every election cycle.

    Maybe that should be a blueprint!

  17. Who is the dumb a$$ that told republicans and the Florida Governor, who wants to be President, to pick a fight with a giant labor union? As a past member of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, employees have basically no choice but to join. Non-members, known as Scabs, will be treated worse than management. And here in lies the problem. Republicans having learned a thing following the 2022 election except what Desantis accomished in south Florida. Leave the Unions alone. If you attack one you are attacking them all nationwide. Instead, cut taxes, stop the flood of illegal immigration, improve education, and learn how to ballot harvest, and everything else democrats do to win elections.

    The Teacher’s Union will just have members sign up for automatic bill pay like the electric company does. And the Union will still be the official exclusive rep for teachers.

  18. No one should be made to Join a Union and No One should be made to Pay Into a Union. Willing Union Participants should pay the Union directly themselves.

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