Worker freedom bill advances in Florida state Senate

Worker freedom bill advances in Florida state Senate

The new bill would ensure public employees are informed of their rights before signing away part of their pay.

A new bill making its way through the Florida Senate looks to protect worker freedom in the Sunshine State.

Senate Bill 78, sponsored by Sen. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, would ensure public employees are aware of their rights before signing a membership authorization form to join a union. The bill would safeguard the good bookkeeping practice of requiring public employers have their employee’s signature and confirmation before taking money from their paycheck and giving it to a union.

SB 78 would require these forms to include the following language:

“I acknowledge and understand that Florida is a right-to-work state and that union membership is not required as a condition of employment. I understand that union membership and payment of union dues and assessments is voluntary and that I may not be discriminated against in any manner if I refuse to join or financially support a union.”

Moreover, workers would have the opportunity to make a fresh choice at the end of their collective bargaining agreement or for three years, whichever is first.

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the bill Feb. 10 with a 6-4 vote, sending it to the Rules Committee for further consideration before a full Senate floor vote.

In 2020, a bill that included similar provisions to those in SB 78 was approved by the Florida House. The Senate did not vote on the bill.

Government worker unions and lawmakers like Sen. Victor Torres, D-Kissimmee, have called the bill “another attempt at union-busting.” But SB 78 grants workers a basic workplace protection: safeguarding their choice to “opt-in” to membership and pay dues or not.

“The employee who earns the money should be the person and final arbiter who makes the decision on how those funds are spent,” said Rodrigues.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee should move to approve SB 78, providing public workers with the opportunity to actively choose the best option for themselves when it comes to union membership – while staying informed of their rights in the workplace.

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