Bill restricting teacher, public sector unions heads to DeSantis

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
The Florida Legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis that could de-certify many teacher unions in charge of negotiating salaries and working conditions.
The Florida Legislature has sent a bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis that could de-certify many teacher unions in charge of negotiating salaries and working conditions. [ MIAMI HERALD | Miami Herald ]
Published April 27, 2023

The big story: A bill aimed at making it harder for several public employee unions to operate is on its way to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who called for the measure. The affected unions — including teachers, public hospital nurses and doctors, and transit workers — had been DeSantis critics.

Lawmakers did not include police and firefighters in the measure (SB 256), leading many observers to see the proposal as political retribution rather than as a way to improve union operations, as the bill sponsors claimed.

Among its provisions, the bill would prevent unions from collecting dues through paycheck deductions and require 60% of eligible workers to join in order to maintain certification. Union members from across Florida, many of whom described themselves as loyal Republicans, decried the measure, saying it would diminish their job protections and potentially violate their constitutional right to collective bargaining.

The state constitution says that workers may not be required to join a union, and that their collective bargaining rights may not be negated. Some questioned how the state could require 60% membership to have a bargaining representative, yet not require anyone to join, and still follow this constitutional right.

Union leaders quickly denounced the House vote, which found a handful of Republicans opposed. “While we don’t hold out hope for a veto, we will make sure (DeSantis) hears us at the voting booth if he signs this anti-worker bill,” SEIU president Mary Kay Henry said in a released statement.

Meanwhile, groups pushing the controls such as Florida Citizens Alliance celebrated it as a way to diminish the influence of teacher unions in schools. Read more from Florida Politics.

More Tallahassee action

Graduation: The Florida House approved legislation that would ease the testing requirements for the Class of 2023. It next goes to the Senate. More from the Miami Herald.

Charter schools: The Florida House approved a bill that would require school districts to share their capital projects revenue with charter schools, Florida Politics reports.

Campus speech: The House also OK’d legislation placing new rules on who can speak at public colleges and universities, the News Service of Florida reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The House convenes at 10 a.m. with HB 741 on school bus passing infractions up for final consideration. • The Senate also convenes at 10 a.m. with a lengthy special order calendar. • Budget conference committees will continue as needed. Leaders said they expect the budget to be done on time, Florida Politics reports.

Hot topics

New College: The school’s trustees denied tenure to five faculty members who had strong support for their work throughout the tenure process. The move came amid state-level efforts to remake the college in a more conservative model. More from Associated Press.

Bus drivers: The Osceola County school district continues to struggle to find enough bus drivers to cover all its routes, WKMG reports.

Board politics: The state ethics commission found probable cause against Rep. Randy Fine in his dispute with Brevard County School Board member Jennifer Jenkins, Florida Today reports.

Superintendents: The Collier County school district held a second round of interviews with its two finalists for superintendent, the Naples Daily News reports.

Other school news

Problems continue to blow up at the Duval County school district’s school of the arts. The School Board has hired a lawyer to look into the situation, WJXT reports. It also reassigned its professional standards official amid an investigation, WJXT reports. But talk of replacing superintendent Diana Greene did not materialize in the school board’s special meeting, the Florida Times-Union reports. More from Jacksonville Today.

The Miami-Dade County school district is now the nation’s third largest. It jumped over Chicago Public Schools, the Miami Herald reports.

A Bay County elementary school is getting a $10 million overhaul. School board members said the complete renovation is long overdue, WJHG reports.

From the police blotter ... A Broward County dad was arrested after his child was found with a gun at school, WPLG reports. • A Bay County teen was arrested on allegations of bringing a gun to school, WMBB reports.

From the court docket ... A judge ruled that Florida Atlantic University had the authority to close campus during the pandemic, the News Service of Florida reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... Frog and Toad are still friends. And they have a new series on Apple Plus.

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