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Florida Bill Could Restore Worker Rights

As 2020 gets underway, the fight for worker freedom continues across the country. Florida’s HB1 may be the first legislative action taken of the year to promote freedom of association for workers.

The bill, as it currently states, focuses on the information employees give when they opt in or out of their union. It would also require permission for dues deduction to be given annually. Currently, permission is automatically renewed from year to year.

Recently, the Oversight, Transparency, and Public Management Subcommittee of the Florida House heard testimony on this bill. Workers for Opportunity’s F. Vincent Vernuccio was one witness who testified. He argued that the bill “simply protects public employees in Florida” by ensuring that employers have the necessary information to deduct union dues and that employees want those dues deducted.

Following Vernuccio’s testimony, as well as the testimony of others, the bill received a favorable vote in the subcommittee and was passed on to the State Affairs Committee for further discussion.

This bill could have huge ramifications for workers in Florida. Should it be enacted into law, workers would have an unprecedented amount of freedom to choose how they spend their money and if they want to belong to a union.

Florida isn’t the only state that is taking steps to protect worker freedom following the 2018 Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME. Last year, Alaskan Gov. Mike Dunleavy issued an administrative order to opt all public workers out of their unions. While workers can opt back into their unions if they want, the governor’s action allows those who don’t wish to be a part of a union to have a way out.

The legislative action in Florida is a promising start to the 2020s, but there is still much work to be done. In the coming year, states need to examine their labor laws to ensure they are doing all they can to support their public employees.

Vernuccio’s testimony on HB1 to the Florida House Oversight, Transparency & Public Management Subcommittee can be found here.

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