Union deductions bill sparks fight
At left, Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, confers with Rep. Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, before introducing his medical marijuana implementing bill on the floor of the House of Representatives Thursday, June 8, 2017 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (Photo by Phil Sears)

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'It’s a solution in search of a problem, when there is no problem,' said Victor Torres.

Sen. Ray Rodrigues says the bill is about making sure workers have the final say about money they have earned. Critics say it is about “union-busting.”

But a Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill that could lead to a battle during the upcoming Legislative Session about unions that represent teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officers and other public employees.

The bill (SB 78), sponsored by Rodrigues, an Estero Republican who chairs the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee, would affect the process of deducting union dues from employee paychecks.

For example, the bill would add a new step in which government employers would have to confirm with workers that they want dues taken out of their pay before the deductions could start. That would be in addition to a current process of union bargaining agents submitting written requests to begin deductions.

Rodrigues, who is sponsoring the bill, said it is about “the deduction of pay of public employees and whether that deduction should occur before the employee has expressly authorized it.”

“The employee who earns the money should be the person and final arbiter who makes the decision on how those funds are spent,” he said.

But Democratic lawmakers and union representatives criticized the proposal, saying the additional requirements are not necessary and are an attempt to make it harder to join unions.

“This bill is just another attempt at union-busting, and it’s a solution in search of a problem, when there is no problem,” said Sen. Victor Torres, an Orlando Democrat who serves on the committee.

The proposal is filed for consideration during the legislative session that will start March 2 and is drawing attention from a variety of business and labor groups.

Groups that expressed support during Wednesday’s meeting included Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity. Groups opposing the bill included the Florida AFL-CIO, the Florida Education Association, the United Faculty of Florida, the Florida Professional Firefighters and the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

The Republican-dominated Legislature has taken up issues in recent years that have drawn fierce opposition from unions.

During the 2020 session, the House approved a bill that mirrored Rodrigues’ new proposal. The Senate did not take up the issue during the 2020 session, but Rodrigues was elected to the Senate in November after serving in the House.

Along with the issue about employers confirming that workers want dues deducted from their pay, the bill also would add a time limit on the authorizations. Under the proposal, the workers’ approval of deductions would continue until new collective bargaining agreements are reached or three years after the deductions begin, whichever is earlier.

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Republished with permission of The News Service of Florida.

Jim Saunders

Jim has been executive editor of the News Service since 2013 and has covered state government and politics in Florida since 1998. Jim came to the News Service in 2011 after stints as Tallahassee bureau chief for The Florida Times-Union, The Daytona Beach News-Journal and Health News Florida. He moved to Florida in 1990 and worked eight years for the Times-Union in Jacksonville and St. Johns County. A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he graduated from Northwestern University and worked at The Blade newspaper in Toledo, Ohio, before moving to the Times-Union. Jim enjoys covering legal and regulatory issues and has extensive experience in covering health care.


2 comments

  • Sonja Fitch

    January 27, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    Absolutely bs! That is the union policies NOW!! You got time for bs ! So get the money back from those damn ceo over Florida Domestic program ! The thief’s stole tax payer dollars! State employees are solid employees! Rodrigues! Loser!

  • Steve Hall

    January 27, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    The unfairness in Florida with regard to dues, comes where in non-member employees are receiving representation without taxation! (Paying dues) do union negotiates their contract, settle disputes, pays the attorneys etc. and the non-paying workers benefit. If Rodrigues wants to make fairness and dues, he should make those people pay! What he’s trying to do hereIs clearly unionbusting.

Comments are closed.


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