New Florida Law May Force Teachers Unions to Recertify
Governor Rick Scott signed into law more than 200 pages of new education-related procedures on March 11, 2018, reported Bloomberg BNA. Collectively referred to as H.B. 7055, the new regulations will have a profound impact on employers and employees in the education sector, with updates to public and charter schools as well as availability of credits for scholarship and tax purposes.
After taking effect on July 1, 2018, H.B. 7055 will:
- Improve availability of state school choice scholarship programs;
- Optimize requirements for certain private schools;
- Loosen restrictions within certain school districts;
- Overhaul requirements for charter school accreditation;
- Determine requirements for teacher evaluation, methodology and material;
- Update certain education-related legal provisions; and
- Appropriate funds.
Concerning teachers unions in Florida, specifically, there are a number of important changes under H.B. 7055. Once H.B. 7055 takes effect, each teachers union must report the following information to the state of Florida:
- Number of members who pay dues; and
- Number of eligible employees in each bargaining unit.
After the state of Florida receives the annual report from a teachers union, an official reviews the data. If more than 50 percent of the members pay dues, the teachers union can continue to operate without any further changes.
However, if less than 50 percent of the members pay dues, then the teachers union must apply for recertification with the state of Florida. To apply for recertification, the teachers union must;
- Obtain signatures from at least 30 percent of the total eligible employees;
- Conduct a successful election; and
- Install newly elected leaders.
If the teachers union fails to conduct — or complete — the election, there may be trouble on the horizon. Without a successful election, the state of Florida will serve as the representative for the bargaining unit. With that power, the state can decertify the teachers union.
An earlier version of H.B. 7055 targeted unions outside of the education sector as well. Referred to as H.B. 25, that bill would have imposed similar restrictions on the unions for all public employees, except for police officers and firefighters. But H.B. 25 did not have tremendous support in the Florida legislature. As a result, H.B. 25 supporters moved to include the union provisions in H.B. 7055 and limit the scope to teachers.
On a larger level, Florida is not the first state to impose new restrictions on public sector unions. The reporting and election requirements in H.B. 7055 seem to mirror similar measures in other U.S. states, including Wisconsin.
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If you have questions about labor unions, wage and hour or other aspects of employment law in Florida, local, state and federal requirements come into play. In order to maximize your chance of success, it can be extremely helpful to consult with a trusted labor and employment attorney. The attorneys at Penichet Law in Miami, Florida, have experience and capabilities handling a wide range of employment law matters. If you need legal help, contact us today for a consultation.