We want teachers to know that union membership is optional – and what it costs


Hundreds of thousands of people from other states move to Florida every year. Many are drawn to the promise of freedom, the guiding principle of the Sunshine State. And now Gov. Ron DeSantis is making good on that promise again, with policy proposals to expand education options for families and protect teachers’ paychecks from union cash grabs.

Lindsay Killen

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The governor’s Teacher Bill of Rights outlines bold steps to curb union abuse and empowers teachers to teach. It also sets guidelines and requirements for union representation. The most important of these is the requirement that teachers must be informed that union membership is optional – they are free to refuse it without fear of losing their jobs. Teachers would also be informed of what membership will cost them. In Florida, union dues can cost more than $700 a year, with some of that money exported abroad to support the union’s national political agenda.

Spencer Roach

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If teachers choose to join, the governor’s proposal requires the union to collect dues itself. For years, the contributions have been deducted directly from the teachers’ salaries. Unions prefer this method because it benefits them. It’s easy for teachers to forget that they’re paying dues each month, let alone think about what they’re getting for their money. And the collection and processing is done at the expense of the taxpayer, not the union. Not anymore, says the governor.

Paycheck protection is a popular policy—not just among teachers, but among the public as well. A 2019 poll conducted by the James Madison Institute and Workers for Opportunity found that more than 70 percent of likely voters think the government should have a public employee’s license before deducting union dues from their paycheck.

The governor’s proposal also strengthens and expands a Florida law that requires a union to stand for election. This process — known as “recertification” — means that a union will not be recognized if employee membership falls below a 50 percent threshold. DeSantis’ plan aims to raise that threshold to 60 percent and create more accountability for how these elections are conducted and reported. The reform will give teachers more opportunities to vote on whether to keep their current union or choose a new one.

But these reforms — bold as they are — only scratch the surface of what the governor intends to do to protect and empower teachers. His proposal would also free teachers from near-permanent union politics by banning the distribution of union brochures and flyers on school premises.

Across the country we have seen union practices that have driven a wedge between teachers and students. Whether it’s strikes keeping children out of school, extended COVID lockdowns, or bright propaganda seeded into the classroom curriculum, teachers’ unions have shown they care more about union bosses and progressive ideology than about educating students – or indeed the substitution of teachers.

That’s why the governor is proposing another well-deserved pay raise for educators, along with protecting teachers’ fundamental liberties. DeSantis has requested $1 billion for teachers’ salaries in its Framework for Freedom budget, a $200 million increase. The governor has overseen the largest teacher pay rise in Florida history since 2020.

This is crucial because our state is growing. Families and parents of young children flock to the Sunshine State. Maintaining Florida’s quality education involves protecting teachers, our classrooms, and our tax dollars from the buff policies often propagated by the unions.

As the governor envisions, Florida schoolchildren won’t grow up just learning about American freedom in the classroom. You will live it.

Rep. Spencer Roach, a Republican, represents and chairs Florida’s 79th House District, which includes part of Lee County House Constitutional Rights, Rule of Law & Government Operations Subcommittee.

Lindsay Killen is the senior national adviser to Workers for Opportunity, a national initiative of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and vice president of national strategy for the James Madison Institute.

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