TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A series of bills on the precipice of becoming laws hit the Senate Floor Thursday afternoon, with a union-centered bill stirring up a heated back-and-forth.
Sen. Blaise Ingoglia’s (R-Spring Hill) SB 256 dictates that a public sector union must maintain 60 percent membership to remain a union. Furthermore, it requires members to pay their union dues separately—either in person, check, or venmo–-removing the automatic paycheck deduction currently in place.
“The union itself should be as responsible to the union member as possible.” Sen. Ingoglia stated. “Transparency and making sure the union members are heard is my number one goal with this legislation.”
“WE ARE TRYING TO INCREASE PARTICIPATION”
Though his legislation advanced, it was not without a fight. Democrats criticized the bill, with Sens. Geraldine Thompson and Darryl Rouson stating that it would “dismantle” and “eliminate” unions.
Former Chairman of the Republican Party Ingoglia responded, asserting that his legislation would do the opposite: “We are trying to increase participation,” He said, referring to the bill’s requirement for 60 percent union membership. “There will be more voices involved in this process so union leadership has a better grasp of what the union members want.”
“A BLATANT ATTACK ON PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS”
The legislation also saw teachers, nurses, and construction workers gathering outside the Senate floor in protest, singing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” in hopes that this “union-busting bill” would not advance.
“It angers me, it depresses me, it enrages me.” Ron Rice, President of the Communications Workers of America, told the Florida Standard, “It’s very challenging to see the sponsor of the bill show that he does not have any answers other than that this is a blatant attack on public sector unions, because they do not want us to have any power.”
SB 256 was waived to the third reading, the final step before passing the Senate and heading to the House. If it is favorable in the House, it will go to the Governor to be signed into Florida law.