‘Teachers are tired of being a piggy bank’: Florida educators will vote for new representation

The battle between rival teachers’ unions is heating up in Florida, where local educators will have the final say.

Florida’s Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) announced on May 14…

The battle between rival teachers’ unions is heating up in Florida, where local educators will have the final say.

Florida’s Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) announced on May 14 that the Miami-Dade Education Coalition (MDEC) would officially be challenging United Teachers of Dade (UTD) in an upcoming election.

As the nation’s fourth-largest teachers’ union and a hotbed of corruption, UTD has struggled to keep enough members to maintain its certification under Florida law.

Without certification, a public sector union can’t participate in bargaining or negotiations as the exclusive representative of employees. 

“UTD is raking off millions of dues dollars every year and using them to line the pockets of its leaders and corrupt politicians to advance a political agenda repugnant to at least half its members,” said Rusty Brown, special projects director with the Freedom Foundation, a union watchdog assisting the MDEC. 

“Teachers are tired of being used as a piggy bank for bad ideas and bad people,” Brown continued. “It’s long since time they were given a mechanism to seize back control of their own representation.”  

And MDEC hopes to be that voice for teachers.  

“We will not be politically involved unless they are issues that are directly affecting the classroom and local school conditions and performance,” Shawn Beightol, a longtime public educator and spokesperson for the MDEC, previously told The Lion. “We’re not going to be sending money to campaigns of legislators and mayors and things like that, like the current teachers’ union, United Teachers of Dade does.” 

According to Beightol, UTD bargaining has hurt teachers by compromising on issues such as classroom size and using amateur teacher representatives rather than lawyers.   

“[MDEC] is not going to make those compromises,” he said. “When wrongs are committed against employees, employees are exploited; when administrators are going after them for whistleblowing or whatever, we’re going to have lawyers protecting our employees.” 

A date for the election hasn’t been set, but Beightol hopes it will be soon since teachers’ current contracts expire at the end of June.