Commentary

 LABOR Tens of Thousands of Workers in Florida Have Just Lost Their Labor Unions. More Is Coming

WLRN, Daniel Rivero, February 16, 2024

An outright crisis is emerging for public sector unions. Some fear that with the new union law in effect the working class in Florida faces a bleaker future.

In St. Johns County, on the Atlantic shore of Northeast Florida, more than 55% of public school teachers paid their union dues this last year. Despite that, nearly 3,500 teachers are facing the threat of having their union representation revoked. At the same time, in Southwest Florida, only 16% of law enforcement officers of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office paid union dues last year. Their union is under absolutely no threat of being decertified.

A year after Governor DeSantis signed into law a sweeping anti-union bill requiring most public sector unions to boost the rate of members paying dues or be disbanded, the full effects of the new union rules are coming into clear view — double standards and all.

Law enforcement, firefighter and correctional officer unions are exempt from the new law, no matter how few members pay union dues.

For other public sector unions, what is emerging is an outright crisis.

A labor economist warned the law could prove to be more effective in destroying labor power in Florida than the landmark Act 10 proved to be in Wisconsin, a law broadly considered as one of the strongest anti-union laws ever passed by a state government.

“The work conditions of hundreds of thousands of people are going to be up in the air. That’s real lives. That’s not politics … People’s lives are going to be upended.”

Rich Templin, director of politics and public policy for the AFL-CIO Florida.

After reviewing hundreds of pages of state union recertification filings, WLRN can reveal that already several tens of thousands of workers have quietly lost their collective bargaining rights, a right that is explicitly protected by the Florida Constitution.

Unions representing tens of thousands of additional public sector workers across the state are in danger of being decertified and dissolved.

Read More: WLRN