In a victory for worker freedom, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday signed SB 256, historic legislation to enhance union transparency and allow workers to control their own paychecks.
Senate Bill 256 (SB 256), sponsored by Senator Blaise Ingoglia (R-11) and Representative Dean Black (R-Jacksonville), clarifies that public-sector employees, including teachers, “have the right… to refrain from forming, joining, or participating in” a labor union, in addition to the right to join one. Under the law, any public employee who chooses to join a union must now sign a membership authorization form containing the following statement of worker rights:
“The State of Florida is a right-to-work state. Membership or non-membership in a labor union is not required as a condition of employment, and union membership and payment of union dues and assessments are voluntary. Each person has the right to join and pay dues to a labor union or to refrain from joining and paying dues to a labor union. No employees may be discriminated against in any manner for joining and financially supporting a labor union or for refusing to join or financially support a labor union.”
The bill institutes a new prohibition on automatic dues deductions from employees’ paychecks, instead instructing public-sector unions to collect their dues directly. These unions must first have a minimum of 60 percent of eligible employees sign up as dues-paying members, an increase from a previous 50 percent threshold. Additionally, the bill placed new restrictions on public-sector strikes and new protections against worker intimidation campaigns by unions.
The bill “says no automatic deduction for school union dues… That is going to lead to more take-home pay for teachers because they’re not going to have as many deductions in their paycheck,” Governor DeSantis explained at the signing ceremony on Tuesday.
SB 256 passed the Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday by a strong margin of 72-44. Last month, the bill had passed the Florida Senate on a 23-17 vote.
“No American should be forced to join any organization or pay cash to others as a requirement to earn and keep their job. Governor Ron DeSantis is putting workers and taxpayers first by leading on this issue, continuing efforts we have enthusiastically supported to remove barriers to work,” said Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist.
From early on in the legislative process, Governor DeSantis championed these efforts to protect the rights of workers. In January, DeSantis outlined his “Teacher’s Bill of Rights,” which included numerous “paycheck protection” proposals to prevent public-sector unions from unfairly targeting workers’ paychecks to extract dues. The Governor’s proposals have now become law through the passage of SB 256.
“ATR applauds Senator Ingoglia, Rep. Black, and Governor DeSantis for their work on this important legislation to defend the rights of their constituents. Workers and taxpayers deserve more choice and greater transparency. On these priorities, Florida has delivered,” said Norquist.