Breaking News
More () »

Florida's largest teacher union sues state over newly signed bill impacting unions

Gov. Ron DeSantis argues the requirements make unions more transparent, but critics believe it will diminish them.

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Education Association announced it's challenging a newly signed bill impacting public sector unions in court.

The governor and GOP lawmakers argue the added requirements will strengthen unions and add more transparency. However, critics said it will diminish them.

Its most vocal critics have been teacher unions.

The FEA, along with the United Faculty of Florida, the Alachua County Education Association and the University of Florida's education union, are suing the state in federal court arguing over factors like a violation of their freedom of speech. 

“We, as educators in Florida, exercise our constitutional rights, and for doing so we have faced political retribution by the governor of this great state,” FEA President Andrew Spar said in a statement. 

Spar compared the lawsuit similar to the ongoing legal dispute between the governor and Disney. The company is also suing the state arguing DeSantis is retaliating after it expressed disapproval of the "Parental Rights in Education" law, known to critics as the "Don't Say Gay" law. 

The FEA endorsed then-Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist in the recent election. In addition, the union's opinions on certain education policies and handing of COVID-19 differed from the governor's. 

"There's just no group that deserves this kind of attention," Nancy Velardi, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, said.

The governor signed the bill Tuesday, which has several requirements:

  • Dues cannot be deducted from paychecks of union members
  • Unions must hold at least 60% eligible membership, which was up from 50%
  • Audited statements of finances are required

Velardi said she feels the mandates are an attack on educators. Her union is already complying with the requirements, however, no union is immune to its impact, she said. 

In cases like audited statements, the FEA has warned it can be costly, which can weaken smaller unions. 

During a press conference on Wednesday, DeSantis responded to the criticism arguing more union members will be informed of how their unions are using its money.

"They are really not doing very much," DeSantis said of teacher unions. "They use that money for political, partisan activities.” 

While the rule affects most public sector unions, law enforcement and firefighters are exempt from the requirements. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out