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Effort To Make It Easier To De-Certify Public Employee Unions Back Again

A fight over public employee labor unions is brewing in the legislature. Critics are decrying a bill they say is aimed at union-busting, while the measure’s sponsor claims it’s meant to ensure unions are doing their jobs.

The proposal says if fewer than half of eligible members pay public employee union dues that union could be forced to re-certify with the state or risk losing its standing all together.  Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood,  says his bill is to make sure unions are being accountable to their members.

“I just don’t think it’s right for a small percent, a few percent of leaders of a union to claim to represent 97 percent," he says.

Public employee unions would have to include the number of employees eligible for representation and the number of those who are represented-both paying and non-paying, in their annual reports.  Firefighter, law enforcement and correctional unions are exempt, which critics say could pit unions against each other. The measure has repeatedly cleared the House, but has failed in the Senate in years past.

Florida’s public employee unions are blasting the measure. Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Boca Raton, says he expects the measure to ultimately fail as it has in years past.

“All I have to say to the hardworking men and women who belong to the unions…I would not fear. I would not fear when this bill passes this committee…I would not fear when it passes the house. This has a long way to go. Through the legislature and ultimately to the courts.”

Plakon’s bill requires public unions to include the number of dues paying and non-dues paying members in their annual reports, along with how many people are eligible for representation. If the number of non-dues paying members is below fifty percent, the union would have to re-certify with the state or risk being dissolved.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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