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Leon, Wakulla Among 13 Teachers Unions That Could Be Shut Down Under New Law

A teacher reads to her student.
U.S. Department of Education

Leon, Wakulla and Nassau County teachers are in danger of losing their union representation if membership doesn’t get above 50 percent. Now a statewide teachers union is challenging the new rule in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Leon County Circuit court.

The Leon Classroom Teachers Association negotiates on everything from salaries to health benefits, paid time off, even break times. Yet only 40 percent of Leon teachers pay the $743 yearly dues. That’s not because the local unions don’t have support. It’s because some teachers can’t afford to pay the fees.

“It’s year-round services and advocacy but there are only 10 payments. And it only being once a month in terms of getting paid in Leon County, that only makes it [payments] appear greater," says Scott Mazur, president of Leon Classroom Teachers Association.

"But when you work it out to a daily portion, it’s a little over $2 a day for your union dues," he says.

Part of a new law says at least half of eligible teachers in a district have to pay dues to their local union or risk the union’s standing. The statewide teachers group, the Florida Education Association, wants a court to overturn the provision. if a judge rules in its favor it could result in the entire law being tossed. That same law lets bullied kids to transfer to other public schools or receive money to attend a private one. 

There are 10 other local teachers unions with membership levels under 50 percent. The new law took effect Sunday. Gov. Rick Scott signed off on HB 7055 in March. 

Follow @HatterLynn

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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