Florida bill proposes changes that better protect public employees

The Janus v. AFSCME case broke down barriers that trapped public employees who wanted to be free from financially supporting a union, but more dismantling is required to eliminate other barriers that remain, such as public employee unions hiding behind bureaucratic minutiae.

Proposed legislation in Florida is the latest attempt to protect the state’s public employees.

If passed, the bill would change how Florida’s government employees join, resign from, and pay membership dues to unions, according to Ballotpedia.

Here are the bill’s proposed changes:

Require employees who wish to join a union to sign a membership authorization form

Current membership authorization forms contain tricky language written in very fine print on the bottom of the card that do not directly inform public employees of their rights. The proposed new membership form would contain the following acknowledgement in bold letters and in at least a 14-point font size:

 I acknowledge and understand that Florida is a right to work state and union membership is not required as a condition of employment. I understand that union membership and payment of union dues and assessments is voluntary and that I may not be discriminated against in any manner if I refuse to join or financially support a union.

Require unions to revoke an employee’s membership upon his or her written request and not ask for a reason

The Center has heard from numerous public employees who, after submitting written resignation requests, were contacted by union representatives and asked to meet about their decision. Union membership is a personal decision. Public employees should not have to disclose a reason for exercising their First Amendment rights.  The proposed language would read:

An employer or employee organization may not ask an employee to provide a reason for his or her decision to revoke his or her membership in the employee organization. If an employee must complete a form to request revocation from the employee organization, the form may not require a reason for the employee’s decision to revoke his or her membership.

Require a signed authorization to deduct dues from an employee’s salary that must be renewed annually

Unions should not be able to take public employees’ hard-earned money for granted year after year. Requiring reauthorization of dues deductions would allow employees to annually evaluate their relationship with the union.

The bill was approved by the House Oversight, Transparency, and Public Management subcommittee in January and now advances to the House State Affairs Committee.