Florida State and Teachers Unions Clash Over New Law Banning Paycheck Dues Deduction

The state this week urged a federal judge to reject an attempt by teachers’ unions to block part of a new law that prevents union dues from being deducted from workers’ paychecks. The law, approved this spring by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers, placed a series of additional restrictions on public-employee unions.

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Unions representing school employees and university faculty members filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law and last month filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against the dues-deduction ban. The Florida Education Association and other unions contend the ban violates contracts that require dues to be deducted from paychecks.

Those contracts were reached before the new law took effect. But in a 51-page court document filed Wednesday, attorneys for the state said Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker should deny the request for an injunction.

In part, they argued that union collective-bargaining agreements are subject to changes in state laws and that unions have other ways to collect dues. Also, the attorneys wrote that unions have not shown the state lacked a “legitimate purpose” in approving the change. “At this stage, Florida asserts the significant and legitimate public purpose of increasing transparency and ensuring public employees are fully informed about the dues they are paying their unions,” the state’s attorneys wrote. “Courts have readily concluded that similar public purposes justify state laws that substantially impair public contracts.” Walker in June declined to issue an injunction, but lawyers for the unions revised the lawsuit and the injunction request.

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