Republicans in the Florida state legislature are taking aim at public unions. The measures taken in this southern swing state, resemble those taken in states like Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Michigan. Republican governors are battling with public unions and the rights they are entitled to.
The House passed a bill that would prohibit automatic deduction for union dues from the paychecks of public sector workers. It would also require individual members to annually give express consent for their dues to be used for political purposes. Other legislation would for the first time require that all public workers take a 5% pay cut so the state can direct that same amount from state workers’ pensions. The Senate budgetary committee also passed a measure denying any fees collected to be used for political purposes in any way.
But here are a few catches: For one thing, Florida’s state constitution guarantees the right for workers to unionize.
According to Article 1, Section 6. Right to work — The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or non-membership in any labor union or labor organization. The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged.
Jeanette Wynn, president of the Florida chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents 110,000 workers across the state said the measures fail to address the most important issue: job creation. “This is all political and not at all economic”.
Florida is considered a “right to work” state. That means any person who works in the state of Florida does not have to join the union in order to work here. In other words: you don’t have to belong to a union to hold a job. It’s entirely optional. Additionally, workers who do join unions are allowed to end their membership at any time.
Because of this, many see the moves by the Republican legislature, as an attempt at union busting. And these feelings aren’t without warrant. According to the Chairman of the Palm Beach County Republicans, Syd Dinnerstein, “This is a hot issue across the country because we have public-sector employees who have been allowed to unionize and to become involved in politics and we should never have allowed either one”.
Robert Dow, president of the 8,000-member Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association, said it’s not about ideas it’s about money. “This is a struggle over who will control wealth in this country.” He said “the shift in wealth in US away from the working-class and middle-class and to the wealthy since the 1970s has been astounding.
“Before that as, unions built and grew strong the middle class built and got stronger. And is unions have diminished middle-class wages have gone stagnant and have even begun to go down. What they are trying to do now is destroy the only effective voice workers have.”