On Monday, members of Florida labor unions protested a bill they said would silence their political speech outside a committee that wound up delaying debate on the law till next week, due to lack of time.
Floridians protesting state Sen. John Thrasher’s proposed union dues restrictions (Pic by Travis Pillow)
On Monday, members of Florida labor unions protested a bill they said would “silence” their political speech outside a committee that wound up delaying debate on the law till next week, due to lack of time. #
Senate Bill 830, introduced by John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine would require public employees to authorize the use of union dues for political purposes and prevent government agencies from allowing for automatic deductions of union dues from employee paychecks. #
Scott Whittle, a Leon County public school teacher who had just gotten out of class, said he felt Thrasher was looking to take revenge on public unions after Senate Bill 6, a proposal he sponsored to end tenure for teachers and impose merit pay, was vetoed by Gov. Charlie Crist. #
Thrasher said he was motivated by “good public policy,” not union-bashing. #
“If they’re doing such a great job with their members, I think they’ll do fine,” he said, adding: “As a taxpayer of the state of Florida, why should we be involved in collecting anybody’s dues, for any organization?” #
Jayne Walker, who works for the Lynx municipal bus system in Orlando, said she didn’t need politicians dictating how her money got spent. “It is my paycheck, my choice,” she said. #
Thrasher said he wanted to get taxpayers out of due-collecting business and let unions handle that themselves. #
Officer Jeff McAdams of the Gainesville Police Department, a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the change would burden unions with bill collection, imposing new costs and inconveniences. #
Banks could handle dues collection instead of the unions, Thrasher said, by offering payroll deductions and forwarding them to unions on workers’ behalf. #
“What’s wrong with a state worker, or any worker for that matter, going to their bank or their credit union and saying, ‘Please deduct so-and-such out of my pay when I transfer it from the state,’ or they direct-deposit, or whatever?” #
McAdams said other organizations, like the Florida League of Cities, fund themselves with taxpayer money and go on to participate in politics. #
“I would ask the great senator if he were so concerned about that, that he offers a friendly amendment that would exclude all organizations from paying dues [if they] lobby on behalf of their clients,” McAdams said. ”We know that’s not going to happen because they’re only targeting the unions.” #
The Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit this morning challenging mandatory contributions to state employee pensions, in what is likely the first of several legal challenges the union will bring against laws passed this year.