Florida Bill Protects Workers’ Free Speech and Union Voting Rights 

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Florida’s House of Representatives has passed House Bill 1197, which aims to ensure employee free speech and voting rights. Workers for Opportunity applauds the advance of this bill, sponsored by State Representatives Scott Plakon (FL-29) and Cord Byrd (FL-11). If enacted, HB 1197 will protect the First Amendment rights of public employees throughout Florida and enhance union democracy by giving public employees the right to vote on the union at their workplace.

Two-thirds of Floridians support increased union transparency and accountability, according to a recent poll by The James Madison Institute, in partnership with Workers for Opportunity.

“This legislation recognizes teachers’ and other public employees’ rights to speak for themselves, choose how their hard-earned paychecks are spent, and participate in transparent elections to determine what union – if any – is best suited to represent their interests,” Byrd said.

“I’m proud of this important step the House is taking toward assuring that Floridian teachers and other public employees have greater control over the choices of whether they support a union and whether that union is the best union to represent their interests,” said Plakon. “By passing this legislation, Florida will become the gold standard for workplace freedom in America.”

Workers for Opportunity, a national initiative of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, has worked closely with Plakon, Byrd and other House and Senate leaders in Florida since 2019 to help the Sunshine State strengthen employee freedoms.

“State Representatives Plakon and Byrd are leading the way in Florida and across the country for advancing employee freedoms,” said Workers for Opportunity Senior Policy Advisor Vincent Vernuccio. “We look forward to seeing the bill swiftly move through the State Senate and go to Governor DeSantis’ desk.”

Vernuccio, who also serves as an adjunct fellow at the James Madison Institute, has written extensively in favor of public employee rights and union democracy and has met with Florida lawmakers regularly to assist their development of this reform.

If enacted, this legislation would:

  • Protect the First Amendment Rights of most public employees in the state
  • Inform most public employees of their rights regarding union membership and give them an annual opportunity to decide whether or not to pay union dues
  • Allow most public employees to leave their union and stop paying at any time
  • Strengthen and expand Florida’s union recertification law, ensuring most public employees get a vote on the union at their workplace if membership drops below 50%
  • Protect taxpayers from subsidizing political activity through the use of payroll deduction for union dues

Workers For Opportunity is a project of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. WFO’s goal is to advance the liberty of employees across the country, ensuring full choice and the protection of their First Amendment rights.

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