The Mackinac Center’s national Workers for Opportunity initiative sees promising signs for state-based labor reform. In Florida, our years-long campaign reached a milestone when Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new paycheck protection proposal for teachers. Dubbed a “Teacher’s Bill of Rights,” the plan echoes the core principle of Workers for Opportunity — protecting employee freedom and curbing union overreach.
The governor’s proposal would give teachers greater control over their paychecks. It would also protect against union politicking in the workplace by keeping union materials off school grounds. And it would require union officials to cover their own expenses. It would do this by eliminating the automatic deduction of union dues from teachers’ paychecks and by prohibiting the practice of “release time,” where employees carry out union duties while on the clock for their taxpayer-funded jobs.
In Tennessee and Oklahoma, Workers for Opportunity is working behind the scenes with local organizations and legislative leaders to tackle similar issues. State policymakers have sought our input as they develop legislative language that safeguards public employees’ First Amendment rights.
In yet another state, reports of union bullying offer a clear reminder of why advancing workers’ freedom is critical. Montana legislators recently tabled a labor reform bill aimed at securing public workers’ right to decide on union membership. The bill was reassigned from a favorable committee to an unfavorable committee, with no clear explanation.
Union intimidation loomed large as the issue heated up. One state legislator publicly acknowledged being threatened. Another member privately disclosed a similar experience to a representative of Workers for Opportunity.
The situation is just one more example of how union overreach and intimidation continue to undermine workplace freedom. Mackinac’s Workers for Opportunity initiative maintains our resolve to make 2023 a banner year for state reforms that safeguard worker freedoms.