Thrasher backs of payroll deduction of union dues, offers up alternative
Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, backed off his proposal to ban unions from collecting dues through payroll deduction Friday and offered up amendment to attempt a compromise that limits the bill to banning use of dues for direct political purposes. The amendment was not available for the public before the vote, which passed 8-4.
Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said that the goal of the amendment was to clarify that the intent of the bill was to prevent union dues from being used “to collect union dues for political activity."
Associated Industries lobbyist John French called the amendment "a good way of clarifying what apparently is the intent of the bill."
Unions continued to voice their opposition to the measure, however.
"To say that unions are the only ones to use dues for political purpose is a little bit disengenous,'' said Gary Rainey, president of the Florida Professional Firefighters. Hundreds of private corporations in Florida use payroll deductions to collect money for political activity with the consent of employees, he said.
"This is not a vote we will likely forget,'' he warned.
Sen. Andy Gardiner, the Senate Republican Leader, said he found the remark "very offensive...This amendment allows you to collect dues for paycheck deduction. All it says is that the taxpayers of this state should not be used to collect...are you telling us tha tthe taxpayer of the
State of Florida should be responsible for collection your political dues?
"They have been for a long time,'' Rainey replied. "I absolutely do understand what it does. the hypocritical thing about it is it doesn't deal with any other organizations."
Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, who opposed the original bill, switched her vote to get the bill out of committeem, she said. But she also said the measure "doesn't address all the concerns I have."