Benz Marshall Pierre | Contributing Writer
The organization of unions and their ability to collect dues is an important feature of fairness in any capitalist society. Unions give a voice to their members and fulfill other promises, but a new law in Florida is expected to bring change that may impact them negatively.
Under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida legislature passed a law restricting how unions are to collect their dues, which are contributions paid by their members to enjoy certain benefits like having the ability to negotiate wages or legal representation. SB 256 will force employees to find new ways through which they must pay their dues or otherwise face decertification.
That must be avoided if a union organization is to retain its power to bargain.
The new law conveniently left out some unions within law enforcement, firefighters, and probation officers.
When one looks deeper into the reason why they were left unharmed, it becomes clear that it is because they have always been supportive of the conservative agenda, and this is now paying off.
The power of organized labor to demand better treatment or better pay has always been a point of intense contention and Florida is no exception to this. On many occasions, business interests will join forces with lawmakers who share their anti-union sentiments. Since an outright ban of these organizations may in fact be impractical, other means had to be resorted to in order to better serve these ideals.
At first sight, this law appears to be killing two birds with one stone. It weakens unions unfriendly to the conservatives and punishes those who oppose Ron DeSantis.
It chips away at the union bargaining system, which according to a federal lawsuit filed at the northern district court of Florida, violates the members of the union’s freedom of speech and association.
But once again, the Republican-controlled legislature in Tallahassee bulldozes those it deems harmful to its interests. Moreover, the law is also a powerful political statement punishing Governor DeSantis’ critics.
Higher education has long been the target of the right wing’s whims. This flurry of laws has long been in the making, and since the political atmosphere is ripe for them, Tallahassee did not disappoint.
Republicans, with their large majority, can afford to pass any law they please so long as it benefits them.
Our very own FIU, a university that has made remarkable strides over the short years of its existence, will surely not escape the impact of SB 256. If college professors can no longer count on the union’s umbrella for protection, they will have no medium through which they can arbitrate their concerns.
The quality of education is also set to suffer a huge blow if everything remains the same as a result of this new law. In absence of these protections, college professors who fail to find a new system to pay their dues will have no choice but to fall prey to the whims of their employers.
This, in and of itself, can set in motion a situation where these professors will be disincentivized to provide the best education to students since they would lose the ability to come up with appropriate teaching methods.
But these considerations will hardly sway a Tallahassee who has proven to be deaf to these concerns. Education is no doubt an important commodity that greases the engines of every country in the industrial world. If vindictive lawmakers pass laws to harm the system, the ripple effect will be catastrophic.
The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.