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Florida’s largest teachers union may face decertification under new state law

United Teachers of Dade (UTD), Florida’s largest teachers union and associate of the Florida Education Association (FEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the National Education Association (NEA), may face decertification under a Florida law passed in May. The law requires a union recertification election if membership drops below 60% of the bargaining unit. 
AFFT reported that at least 42 Florida teachers unions are below the threshold and could face recertification votes for the first time, including UTD. 
As of last week, only 58.4% of Miami-Dade teachers are members of the union. 
“Last year we were at 51%, and last week we were at 58.4% in the third largest school district in the United States,” said union president Karla Hernandez-Mats. “People want to have their rights, people want to have wages, benefits, and a union that fights for them. And unfortunately, we’re seeing anti-worker legislation.” 

Most union members have never voted for a union to represent them. That’s because once unions are certified, they remain the exclusive representative unless challenged with a decertification vote. For the majority of public unions, that original certification happened decades ago.  

Recertification elections required by the new law would be the first time most union members have a direct say in who their representative is.   
The legislation received major pushback from unions in the state, and since passing, has been subject to multiple lawsuits. Florida teachers unions filed a federal lawsuit in May which argues the Florida law violates the First Amendment.  
“The governor is using this legislation to retaliate against his critics, very similar to what we’ve seen in the attacks on Disney as well,” Florida Education Association president Andrew Spar said. 
Just last month, the state of Florida sued the Biden Administration for withholding $800 million in federal transportation infrastructure funds, which the state argues is in retaliation for the legislation passed in May. 
“Florida passed laws to protect workers from being strong-armed by unions,” Republican state Attorney General Ashley Moody said in a statement. “We’re pushing back against this overreach to protect our state’s autonomy and Florida workers.”  

A spokesperson for Pete Buttigieg, the US Secretary of Transportation, and the Department of Transportation declined to comment on “ongoing litigation.” 

Isabel Blank

Isabel Blank is Communications Director at Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2021, Isabel worked in media relations at Travelers Insurance and held government affairs and communications roles with Yankee Institute. She has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in political science and Spanish, both from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). Isabel loves Crossfit and supporting her local Connecticut breweries.