from Public News Service
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A bill opponents describe as “union-busting” legislation meant to target Florida’s public school teachers is back again after facing defeat in the Florida Legislature.
Bills such as House Bill 25, by Republican Rep. Scott Plakon of Longwood, are being introduced in legislatures across the country. While Plakon claims it will add greater transparency to labor unions, opponents say it’s part of a coordinated effort to undermine the voices of public workers.
Joanne McCall, president of the Florida Education Association, says the bill even further marginalizes women.
“I am the largest labor union in the state of Florida,” she says. “As a matter of fact, we are the largest labor union in the Southeast, and we represent 75 percent women. This bill is directed at us.”
Under the bill, any public-sector union – except those representing firefighters and law-enforcement or corrections officers – would be automatically decertified if more than 50 percent of the workers they represent don’t pay dues to the organization. Last year, the bill passed the full House but died in a Senate committee.
Retired teacher and Pinellas County School Board member Joanne Lentino says House Bill 25 is just another way for some lawmakers in Tallahassee to divide and conquer, not realizing their actions will impact families living paycheck to paycheck.
“They obviously don’t understand that you can’t create a law to make everybody join a union, and in the same regard, you can’t make a law for people to have less than 50 percent to decertify a union,” she explains. “So there is some oxymoron there, I think.”
Florida is a “right to work” state, and employment is not dependent on joining a union. Statewide, about 10 percent of state workers belong to an organized labor group. House Bill 25 is favored to gain strong support from the Republican-controlled Legislature as the bill already is fast tracked with just one committee stop before it gets voted on by the full House.