More than 30 public sector unions in Florida have lost their certification, and dozens more are at risk for failure to maintain a minimum percentage of members.
Last May, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill which required unions to have 60% membership to maintain certification. The same bill also restricted unions’ ability to automatically deduct dues from teachers’ paychecks.
Certification is what forces employers to bargain with the union instead of with individual employees.
But Florida unions are struggling to prove employees actually support them.
The Orlando Weekly reported 33 unions have been decertified since May of last year, and an additional 22 local teachers’ unions are struggling to reach the 60% membership threshold.
Unions with less than 60% membership can still petition for recertification but need to have a 50% plus one majority vote to succeed.
In the Maimi-Dade area, home of the state’s largest teachers’ union, teachers were reportedly harassed by union officials trying to boost membership numbers.
United Teachers of Dade has since failed to meet the 60% threshold and face decertification.
Florida teachers’ unions have also seen a decrease in revenue since the new law prevents unions from automatically deducting dues from paychecks.
Now, union officials are accusing the state of union-busting.
“I think the authors of this bill have made it clear that it is their intent to decertify unions,” said Matt Theobald, head of the Martin County Education Association. “Our teachers are in the classroom because they care about their students. They care about their community. And the question ultimately comes to who is there to care about them.”
Currently, just over 50% of Martin County teachers are union members.
But supporters of the law believe teachers – and other public employees – are tired of giving their money to unions who spend more on lobbying than actually helping their members or their students.
In 2022, less than a quarter of public employees belonged to a Florida union.
And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average union membership nationwide fell to a new low of 10% in 2023.