By Rusty Brown for RealClearWire
After several years of discussions with Florida lawmakers, the Freedom Foundation played a key role in helping the state pass the nation’s most powerful labor reform bill since Wisconsin’s Act 10 in 2011.
In the meantime, several states have adopted parts of the Wisconsin model. Subsequently, the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME invalidated most government employee membership forms and spurred new legislative avenues. In response to Janus, many states have passed legislation codifying what a valid union membership form must contain in order to be legally recognized.
Florida, a state with a large number of government union members, has blazed its own path – one that will probably be followed. Florida’s new union law opens the door to push back against Big Labor’s stranglehold on state policy and public employees.
The new law prohibits government agencies from deducting union dues directly from their employees’ salaries, forcing unions to do their own bookkeeping. Also, in line with Janus, Florida will now require text on union membership forms to remind workers that they don’t have to join if they don’t want to, and that they can’t be discriminated against based on their decision.
Both provisions come into effect on July 1.
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Other provisions will not take effect until October 1. They are more complicated to implement, as they require agency regulation and a thorough review from the Florida Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC).
The most significant change is a provision triggering automatic recertification elections for low-membership unions.
Public sector unions are already required to submit an annual application for recertification to PERC. Going forward, that application should specify the number of employees represented — and the number actually paying dues. If that latter number drops below 60 percent, an election is automatically scheduled, asking the workers in that bargaining unit to decide the fate of the union.
In addition, the membership numbers listed in the application must be verified by an independent CPA. This financial audit goes beyond just verifying membership; unions are now required to submit audited annual accounts showing all receipts and expenditures.
Proponents of the provision to exclude government agencies from dues collection note that the previous arrangement created the false impression that dues payments were authorized or authorized by the government.
Florida’s more than 200,000 government employees whose dues are currently deducted directly from their paychecks will see their pay rise.
However, the recertification and financial audits are the real meat of the legislation.
See also: Union removes document after report reveals taxpayer-funded collusion with Biden administration
Florida’s public sector unions will need to create a new model where workers are educated about their options and persuaded to join, rather than being bullied into joining. The union monopoly no longer exists: instead of collecting dues from every government employee, unions will only be supported by those whose loyalty they have actually earned.
Under the new law, Florida employees can hold their unions accountable for the quality of representation provided. And if they are not satisfied, the union’s days are numbered. Just like things work in the real world of the marketplace.
After working hard to get the new reforms approved, the Freedom Foundation is now working to ensure they are enforced.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
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