The Phoenix Flyer

A “slap at teachers”

By: - July 5, 2018 8:10 am

The Florida Education Association, local teacher unions and educators filed a lawsuit this week, hoping to block a new law that critics say violates the state Constitution and looks a lot like union busting.
The lawsuit filed in Leon County Circuit Court stems from a July 1 law that could ultimately revoke a teacher union’s certification if the organization has fewer than 50 percent of dues-paying members. Unions would have to report the number of employees who do or don’t pay dues.
If a union chapter loses its certification, “They lose the right to represent their employees and school districts can do what they want,” said Ronald Meyer, representing the FEA and other plaintiffs.
“This was really a slap at teachers,” Meyer said about the new law.
That law doesn’t apply to other types of unions, such as those for law enforcement, firefighters or correctional officers.
“Singling out members of the instructional staff of public school boards to be treated in a manner different than all other classes of public employees in the state violates their right to equal protection” under the Florida Constitution, the lawsuit states.
With some K-12 educators unable to afford union dues, some unions have already seen a drop below 50 percent. Those include teacher unions in Leon, Manatee and Wakulla counties, which are included in the lawsuit. The groups filed the lawsuit against key members of the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission. The commission helps resolve disputes between public employees and employers.
Other local teacher unions involved in the lawsuit are from Broward, Brevard, Polk, Lee, Charlotte and Hillsborough.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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