TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — House Democratic Caucus members on Friday debated and voted against House Bill 1021, a Republican-sponsored measure that would prohibit the automatic payroll deduction of union dues from public employees’ paychecks.
The bill would require unions to get written permission from members before their dues can be used for political contributions. Democratic Caucus members argued, among other points, that the apparent purpose of the bill is to eliminate public employee unions.
The following are some of their remarks during today’s debate:
Rep. Joseph Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach: “The intent of this legislation is to target and weaken one group, public employee unions. The collection of union dues is not a broken process and does not need to be fixed.”
Rep. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth: “Everyday, I walk in this building and ask, `Who are we sticking it to today? So far, we’re compiling quite a list. We’ve stuck it to the unemployed, to teachers, to public employees, women, and now we’re sticking it to unions.”
Rep. Franklin Sands, D-Weston: “You have said that you resent the connotation that this bill is a union-busting bill. Resent away, but at the end of the end it truly is a union-busting bill.”
Rep. Luis Garcia, D-Miami: “This is nothing but a bill to prohibit unions to express their political will…This is un-American. We’re losing our freedoms.”
Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton: “It feels like everyone woke up one day and decided that unions are our enemies. That unions are leeches and need to be eliminated from the system…I have to ask: Is this bill political retribution? Is this some sort of ideological war against individuals who feel that unions hold a deserved place in U.S. history?
Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, D-Deerfield Beach: “I am a union member and I resent the arrogance in which this bill is presented.”
Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami: “As a dues-paying union member and teacher, this bill is taking away my right so that I no longer have the choice of having my union dues deducted from my salary via my state employer.”
Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando: “This bill, along with a host of other anti-union bills should give us pause. The net effect is to make political speech more difficult.
Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach: “Let’s be clear members, this bill seeks to occupy the People’s last two rows of this Chamber. Warning members, not everybody is returning, I am not talking about seniors. Be wise about the voting record you are establishing. The people are watching. There will be more than two rows next year, how many rows remains the question! To that end, I thank you for your help.”
Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee: “It’s on days like today, when (the Legislature) does things for political gain and that have nothing to do with policy but everything to do with politics and posturing, well, it saddens me…This bill isn’t getting Floridians’ jobs or doing anything to make the life of Floridians better.”
Rep. Hazelle Rogers, D-Lauderdale Lakes: “I’ve not heard from any local government employees that this (dues collection) is a problem…This is not the right time to disenfranchise our workers.”
Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg: “If government should not play a role in collecting dues of members, then government shouldn’t play a role in being a debt collector either…Let’s get out of that business too. Let the companies with the profit motive collect their own debt and pull government out.”
Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando: “This is about silencing the voices of union members who dissent with the policies of the majority.”
Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach: “The state doesn’t own the money that the worker gets after they’ve worked for their pay. It belongs to the employee. They are simply directing the dollars to go where they want it to go.”
Rep. Richard Steinberg, D-Miami Beach: “This is a targeted shot right at unions. It’s not about any other membership groups…It’s about silencing the unions. Why? Because many people in this chamber don’t agree with what they’re saying…They want to cut their throats so they can’t speak anymore.”
Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa: “Let’s be honest. Don’t put lipstick on this elephant…No one pays dues to a union unless they want to. Members can quit and engage at any time.”
Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee: “We want to be the House that encourages freedom…so vote this measure down.”
Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation: “Think about what is the true purpose of this legislation…It’s about silencing the unions. And silencing the middle class. The middle class and citizens across this great state…When did individuals who want to participate in the process, middle-class citizens who want to participate in the process, when did they become public enemy number one.? They are not.”
Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando: “This is not just about unions, it’s about employees making eight and ten bucks an hour trying to make their lives a little better, trying to bargain and trying to come to agreement on their working conditions, and this legislation is putting hurdles in their way…There is nothing more sacred to a free market than a labor union…of people coming together trying to make their workplace better.”
Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek: “The reality is, what we’re saying in the back (among Democratic Caucus members) is the truth. We have been listening to the people, and you (in the majority party) have not been listening to the people. There has not been one single union member come to us and say that what this bill is doing is for their benefit.”
Rep. Ron Saunders, D-Key West: “What’s the real reason for this bill? Two words: Political Payback. We all realize that unions generally support Democrats.”Tweet