Governor Ron DeSantis takes aim at teachers unions

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Governor Ron DeSantis announced his plan for a historic $1 billion investment to increase teacher pay here in Jacksonville Monday morning, but along with the money for salaries he also announced multiple new regulations on the unions that represent teachers.

The DeSantis wants to cap teachers’ union officials’ salaries, so they don’t make more than the top-earner among the members they represent.


He also wants to stop teachers’ unions from automatically deducting union dues from members’ paychecks and impose a slew of new financial transparency and accountability measures on the unions.

The DeSantis argued unions are too involved in politics and blamed them for delaying teacher pay increases and supporting policies like mask and vaccine mandates.

“Having partisan groups basically get special privileges for deductions and all these other stuff, you know, that doesn’t work and so, I think this will be a huge, huge boon for transparency and efficiency in our school system,” DeSantis said.

But Terrie Brady, head of Duval Teachers United, argued teachers unions are simply there to advocate for the best interests of their members.

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“We think we’re pretty transparent in the work that we do,” Brady said.

Brady said if the Governor proposal becomes law, unions will abide by it, but she questioned why teachers’ unions are being singled out.

“Why are others able to have payroll deduction through their cities, state, municipality? You see what I’m saying? Or within the district and we are not,” Brady said.

The Florida Education Association, which represents more than 150,000 teachers and faculty in Florida also weighed in.

“While Gov. DeSantis seeks to punish and divide, we seek to unite,” said FEA President Andrew Spar in an emailed statement. “We respect the voices of parents, teachers, school boards, administrators and students. All have a crucial role in providing our students with the best possible education, and students’ needs must be our focus. Our schools don’t need to go back to 1950; we need to move forward toward 2050. Florida’s students deserve strong public schools.”

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The legislation would also prohibit union officials from discussing union business while on the job and bar them from distributing union materials on school grounds.

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