Florida House and Senate panels Thursday approved bills that would make a series of controversial changes affecting public-employee unions.
The Senate version (SB 256), which was approved by the Fiscal Policy Committee, is now ready to go to the full Senate.
The bills have drawn heavy opposition from organized labor, as they include changes such as preventing public-employee union members from having dues deducted from their paychecks.
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Members would have to separately pay dues. Also, for example, the bills would require recertification of unions as bargaining agents if they represent less than 60 percent of eligible employees.
The bills would exempt unions representing law-enforcement officers and firefighters from the changes. The House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee voted 10-5 on Thursday to approve the House version of the bill (HB 1445).
House sponsor Dean Black, R-Jacksonville, said the bill would provide “transparency” for workers. Senate sponsor Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said the changes wouldn’t take away collective-bargaining rights.
“There is nothing in this bill preventing an employee from joining a union,” Ingoglia said. But opponents blasted the proposed changes.
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“Most Floridians care about how they can put food on their tables and feed their families and how they can pay their bills that increase daily,” Rep. Jervonte Edmonds, D-West Palm Beach, said. “When they go to work, they want to at least feel that someone has their back if there is an issue at the workplace, the workplace they give eight hours, or one-third of their day, to.”
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