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Florida teacher unions and others are suing over a new law aimed at curbing public employee unions

The Florida Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.
Anna Jones
WFSU Public Media
The Florida Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.

Several public employee unions are suing after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping measure that, among other things, eliminates automatic payroll deductions for dues.

Republicans had tried for years to pass what critics call a union-busting bill.
The proposal builds on past efforts aimed at curbing public employee unions. The right of those workers to collectively bargain is enshrined in Florida’s constitution, but the public employee unions have often opposed the state’s Republican leadership.

Most recently, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Lieutenant Gov. Jeannette Nunez called out the state’s teachers' unions over their opposition to mask mandate bans and criticism of efforts to remove books from school libraries.

“You have this situation with school unions—you have a right not to do it but what they do is provide authorization forms, blanket authorization forms, for automatic deduction of dues. So even though a lot of teachers don’t do it, many teachers feel pressure to do it," said DeSantis.

"The education unions have been turned into political weapons," said Nunez. "They’ve been not only spreading misinformation on the book ban hoax— which we’ve successfully debunked— but also we want to make sure teachers at the end of the day have money that goes into their pockets.”  

Wednesday, the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, announced a federal lawsuit against the state over the law. Union President Andrew Spar called it a form of political retribution.

"And here’s the thing; lawmakers know it’s not right. There was not a single lawmaker in either the House or Senate who spoke in favor of this legislation. Not a single lawmaker, except the two who sponsored the bills," he said.

The FEA says it's leaving the door open for other unions to join its lawsuit. Meanwhile other public employee unions, mainly in South Florida, filed suit in state court on Tuesday—just hours after DeSantis signed the measure into law.

The only unions exempt from the measure are law enforcement and firefighters.

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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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