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Tipsheet

Florida Teachers Unions File Legal Challenge Against Law Nixing Automatic Due Payments

AP Photo/Phil Sears

Teachers unions in Florida filed a challenge to a new piece of legislation that restricts public-employee unions from automatically deducting dues from members’ paychecks, the Tampa Bay Times reported Thursday. 

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The Florida Education Association, the United Faculty of Florida, the Alachua County teachers union and the University of Florida faculty union filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court over the law, S.B. 256, which was signed into law this week.

In the lawsuit, the teachers unions argued that the law is in violation of the First Amendment, equal protection and contract rights. 

The Times noted that teachers unions largely opposed DeSantis’ reelection bid and threw their support behind Democrat Charlie Crist. DeSantis defeated Crist in the election. Reportedly, unions that represent police officers, correctional officers and firefighters were exempted from S.B. 256. These groups backed DeSantis and Republicans.

“In a bid to punish the ‘school unions’ and other public employee unions who have opposed him, Gov. DeSantis pushed for ‘unprecedented’ changes to Florida’s collective bargaining law to harm disfavored unions while exempting those unions representing law enforcement, corrections, and firefighter employees who have supported him,” the lawsuit reportedly said.

In addition to restrictions on automatic deductions, the law requires unions to be re-certified if fewer than 60 percent of eligible employees are members. 

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“They can make more of an informed decision,” DeSantis said of teachers when he signed the bill into law. “They have a better sense of how much money is actually going and then they can evaluate what the union is actually doing for them. They are really not doing very much. They use that money for political, partisan activities. That’s what they use it for.”

Andrew Spar, the president of the Florida Education Association, told the outlet that DeSantis “is using this legislation to retaliate against his critics, very similar to what we’ve seen in the attacks on Disney as well.”

As Townhall covered, DeSantis described the legislation as “paycheck protection.” 

“You have this situation with school unions… what they do is they provide authorization forms, blanket authorizations for automatic deduction of dues. So even though a lot of teachers don’t do it, many teachers feel pressure to do it and so what this bill does, it protects them. It says no automatic deductions for school union dues. If you want to join you can, but you can write a check and you hand it over. That is going to lead to more take home pay for teachers because they are not going to have as many deductions in their paychecks,” DeSantis said on Tuesday ahead of the bill signing. 

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“These laws are gaining in popularity because people see that public-sector unions are using taxpayer money to play political games, and they’re tired of the corruption,” said Rusty Brown, the southern director of the Freedom Foundation, said in a statement. 

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