Florida Teachers on Edge as New Law Threatens Their Unions

Life without union representation is not a distant fear for Russell Baggett.

Until two years ago, the Calhoun County school district in northern Florida had no collective bargaining unit to support teachers.

“We had no contract,” said Baggett, president of the two-year-old Association of Calhoun Educators. “They would say, yes, there is money for a raise or, no, there isn’t. Whatever they decided, went.”

The passage of new collective bargaining rules into law this month has Baggett and teachers across Florida on edge, with fears that they could be headed back to the “bad old days” without a voice.

At issue is a new law requiring local unions to prove they represent a majority of the teachers in their districts. The measuring stick: Having at least half of all employees eligible to be in the union paying dues.


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