(CBrief) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has indicated he would support a long-debated measure that would regulate how teachers pay their union dues. Specifically, the GOP governor “has signaled that he will make a priority of passing a long-debated proposal that would prevent teachers from having union dues deducted from their paychecks,” according to a Tuesday report.
The Floridian Press noted that the governor voiced support for the proposal during a speech Monday in Orlando, calling it “paycheck protection legislation.”
The report noted that the Florida Education Association and other major teacher’s unions supported DeSantis’ Democratic opponent, Charlie Christ, ahead of last month’s election. Crist’s running mate, in fact, was Miami-Dade County teacher’s union leader Karla Hernandez.
The report added:
DeSantis also has battled unions in recent years about issues such as reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. During what was described as a “Freedom Blueprint” speech Monday, he tied the union-dues idea to raising pay for teachers during the 2023 legislative session.
“It’s more of a guarantee that that money is going to actually go to those teachers,” DeSantis said in the speech, which was posted online by the NTD network. “It’s not going to be frittered away by interest groups who get involved in the school system. And so I think those will be really, really positive reforms, and we’re looking forward to doing that. And I think we’re going to get big, big support in the Legislature.”
Under the measure, teachers would be forced to pay their union dues separately, which would make it less of a convenience. But he also said that it “maximizes freedom to choose, and I think it will be a more accurate reflection of who actually wants to be part of this or not.”
The Florida legislature has considered a similar proposal since at least 2011 but they have never made it through both chambers. HB 1197 passed the state House this year but did not pass in the Senate.
Unions and their Democrat allies have staunchly opposed the measure. “This is a union-busting bill,” then-Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, claimed during debate in January.
The governor also said he supports putting a threshold on teacher unions as well of at least 50 percent. “If they don’t have a majority of the teachers who are actually signing up to pay dues, it should be decertified,” DeSantis said. “You shouldn’t be able to continue as a zombie organization that doesn’t have the support of the people you are negotiating for.”
The GOP governor, whose name is frequently mentioned as a potential 2024 presidential contender, won reelection last month by nearly 20 percent, a much wider margin than when he won his first race in 2018. In his victory speech, he laid out his vision for the future as well as why he believes he won so convincingly.
“We made promises to the people of Florida and we have delivered on those promises. And so today, after four years, the people have delivered their verdict. Freedom is here to stay,” DeSantis said. “Now, thanks to the overwhelming support of the people of Florida, we not only won election, we have rewritten the political map. Thank you for honoring us with a win for the ages.”
He went on to point out that his emphasis on keeping the state open and functioning as much as possible, especially during the pandemic, led to historic numbers of Americans relocating there, and many of them, if not most, registering as Republicans.
“Now this great exodus of Americans, for those folks, Florida for so many of them, has served as the promised land,” DeSantis said. “We have embraced freedom. We have maintained law and order. We have protected the rights of parents. We have respected our taxpayers and we reject woke ideology. We fight the woke in the legislature, we fight the woke in the schools, we fight the woke in the corporations, we will never ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die!”