Unions would have to meet new threshold requirements or risk decertification
(The Center Square) — Florida could change the way unions operate through legislation that proponents say would force union representatives to be more involved and available to their members while ensuring non-members don’t face discrimination.
Senate Bill 256 is sponsored by Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill and it would require union members to sign a membership authorization form recognizing Florida as a right to work state before they join.
The bill passed the House by a 72-44 vote on Wednesday and is headed to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Unions would have to meet new threshold requirements or risk decertification.
“Unions negotiating on issues with members and non-members should have at least 60 percent of eligible members paying dues,” Ingoglia said.
New membership and payment of union dues would be prohibited from being a condition of employment. Unions would lack the ability to take dues from a member’s paycheck, instead, the member would have to pay dues directly to their respective union.
A union would be required to revoke an employee’s membership upon receiving a written request at any time, and union officials must pledge that they would not earn more than the highest-paid member of the people they represent.
Ingoglia stated that the intent behind making members physically pay their dues is to ensure that members are able to have face-to-face conversations with their union reps and that they are getting the best representation possible.
Firefighters and law enforcement officers would be exempted from the bill and Ingoglia explained that the reason for the exemption is because employees in those career fields should not be burdened with having to physically hand a check to their union reps after working long hours, including overnight shifts.
Ingoglia added that first responders, firefighters, and police officers generally have a high participation rate in their respective unions, with easy access to union reps if they have an issue they need to be resolved.
“What I am seeing is that union leadership is very disconnected from union membership.” Ingoglia said, adding that the government should not be involved with collecting or disbursing dues.
Ingoglia stated during a Senate Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability meeting that he believes SB 256 would strengthen unions because union reps would be forced to have conversations with members and this would in turn make employees more involved with their unions.
Opponents of the bill have voiced concerns that the legislation could mean the end of unions.
Steve Simon, a wastewater treatment plant operator from Tampa, opposes the bill and stated that it is a senseless attack on all frontline workers in Florida.
“This bill is an insult to all working families in Florida, and if it passes it would be very costly. Florida would lose billions in federal transit funds over the next few years. All this because the Legislature feels the need to put the hammer down.” Simon said.
Joseph Brenner from the Service Employee International Union, representing workers in service areas including 911 operators, transit and emergency cleanup crews across Florida, said members of his union want to keep their current rights intact.
SB 256 has successfully made its way through both the House and Senate and is now moving to the governor’s desk for his consideration.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.
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