For decades, Florida has demonstrated a commitment to protecting workers from union coercion. But in 2022, the Mackinac Center will be equipping the state’s leading policymakers with the ammunition needed to become the gold standard for worker freedom.
Florida has long ensured that workers, whether in the private sector or the public one, cannot be fired for withdrawing from a union. That’s a protection enshrined in the Florida Constitution by a right-to-work provision. In recent years, the state went a step further by requiring teachers unions to stand for reelection, or “recertification,” to maintain their monopoly representation if their membership drops below 50% in a bargaining unit.
Yet Florida legislators understand that even these protections are not enough to fully recognize and implement the First Amendment rights of public employees in their state.
Last year, Florida came very close to enacting reforms that would get them there. In 2022, lawmakers in the Sunshine State are committed to crossing the finish line. If they do, it will be with the support of the Mackinac Center’s national Workers for Opportunity initiative and in close partnership with The James Madison Institute, Americans for Prosperity and other coalition allies.
Lawmakers are considering reforms that would do the following:
- Ensure good bookkeeping by requiring that public employees were informed of their First Amendment rights to refrain from union membership before agreeing to pay the union
- Require employers to obtain consent directly from their employees before withholding union dues money from paychecks
- Require public employees to be given regular, periodic opportunities to reassess their union membership options and make a fresh decision
- Strengthen the state’s union recertification law so that, rather than being narrowly restricted to teachers and instructional personnel, it would extend to other public sector employees as well
- Bolster accountability mechanisms for the recertification process so that it is more transparent and the results of its union elections can be more accurately verified
As Florida’s lawmakers revisit these efforts with renewed vigor in 2022, they will show liberty-minded state lawmakers and administrations elsewhere what leadership on worker freedom looks like.