One of the union-busting bills passed the Florida House on Thursday. This is the "legislative train", House Bill 7055 on Education, which is 198 pages long and addresses 231 different subjects, one of which (pages 175 - 176) is decertifying some unions that do not have majority of the employees they represent as dues-paying members. This is one of two such bills that have passed the house: for more on their contents, see Thursday's Biweekly article.
Correction to Thursday's Biweekly. While the other bill, House Bill 25, would affect UFF directly, House Bill 7055 would not. House Bill 7055 targets K-12 teachers, who make up most of the membership of our state affiliate, the Florida Education Association (FEA). So it is the FEA that would be directly affected. Of course, we are part of the FEA, and it is the FEA that hires the lawyers we rely on. And of course, if House Bill 7055 becomes law, we will be next.
House Bill 7055 covers many issues, from charter schools to scholarships to online education to bullying to risk assessment to home schooling to investigation of fraud to assessments of schools to capital school outlay. The FEA found many things to dislike in HB 7055, and FEA President JoAnne McCall wrote that, "HB 7055 is a 198 page log-rolled bill full of proposals that do nothing to improve public education in Florida. It is a disaster for our students and will create very real problems for our schools. Legislators should focus on investing in our neighborhood public schools, where 90 percent of children attend, not diverting money from them on fly-by-night schemes and vouchers - and personal gain."
UFF's Tallahassee office will continue to watch this bill and educate legislators of its likely effects. The office is also watching Senate Bill 1036 (the companion to HB 25), which would affect us directly: HB 25 / SB 1036 would require majority membership of all public employee unions except for correctional officers, firefighters, and police. Meanwhile, we strongly encourage UFF faculty to become more involved in the future of their union and their university. Join UFF today! Download, fill in, and mail the membership form. And if you join NOW, you will get a $ 300 dues rebate. Benefits of membership include the right to run and vote in UFF chapter and statewide elections; representation in grievances (UFF cannot represent a non-member in a grievance or litigation); special deals in insurance, travel, legal advice, and other packages provided by our affiliates; free insurance coverage for job-related liability; and the knowledge you are supporting education in Florida. Come and join the movement.
P.S. HB 423, a shorter train (only 53 pages) that would (among 98 other things) consolidate USF into a single university, is still before the House Education Committee. The Legislature is busy this year! Stay tuned.
UFF invites everyone to a Spring Social on Thursday, February 22, starting at 6 pm, at Ferg's Sports Bar & Grill at 1320 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, northwest of USF St. Petersburg. We will be in the upstairs room. Come talk to union bigwigs about the hot issues, the Legislature's proposal to reorganize USF - and the Legislature's proposal to do away with UFF.
Chapter Meeting tomorrow Friday, February 23, on USF St. Petersburg in the USC Palm Room. We will have lunch at the meeting. All UFF members are invited to attend. Non-members are also invited to come and check us out. Come and join the movement.
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