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Florida Education Association finds fault in bills targeting union dues

'That is not what lawmakers should be focused on,' union president Andrew Spar says
Posted at 4:34 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 16:34:08-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's teacher union says it needs lawmaker support for educators and students to fully-recover from COVID-19.

The Florida Education Association released a new ad Friday targeting senators and representatives at the Capitol.

"Florida public school teachers and staff put the needs of our kids, families and communities before their own," the ad transcript reads. "Now, it's Tallahassee's turn."

The digital promotion starts running this weekend, pushing the union's legislative agenda this session.

At the top of the list, killing bills with new union restrictions.

HB 947 requires government employers to confirm if workers want dues withdrawn from paychecks before starting. Members would also need to reauthorize deductions after three years or after a new bargaining agreement.

HB 835 halts school districts from taking dues out of paychecks. Instead, teachers would pay unions directly.

FEA's president Andrew Spar said the bills force workers to jump through more hoops. Also, he said they aim to complicate the funding process for unions.

FEA president Andrew Spar
FEA president Andrew Spar is opposed to the two bills being considered by the Florida Legislature

"HB 835 and HB 947 are directly limitations on freedom," Spar said. "That is not what lawmakers should be focused on. We should be focusing on our kids, helping our public schools and recognizing how much our public schools, teachers and staff this year."

GOP lawmakers are pushing the proposals. They believe the bills strengthen member rights, giving them more chances to opt-out of memberships.

Both measures are getting traction in committees despite Democrats deriding them as union busters.

There is some policy that FEA is supporting, SB 886. If it is approved, student testing for this school year wouldn't be used to determine high school graduation, third-grade retention or teacher evaluation.