Letter to the Editor: Republicans need to focus on economy, not taking away teacher rights

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Editor:

First of all, as a school teacher, proud Republican and citizen of Florida I want to sincerely thank our political representatives in Tallahassee for having in person learning all year! You stepped up and took the lead nationally when many states caved and some states/school districts [that] are still not having in-person learning which is disgraceful in my opinion.

With that said, please focus on getting us “back to normal” in regards to fighting COVID-19, continuing to get our citizens vaccinated at break neck speed and keeping our economy open and growing. Please stop with the anti-union legislation and focus on what is most important during this critical time in history.

The Republican sponsored Senate Bill 1014 requires actions such as all teachers’ union membership applications to add phrases like “Right to Work State” in bold print. Newsflash my fellow Republicans: teachers are professionals and we are already well aware what the laws are concerning our local unions.

Members would have to “renew” their membership yearly. Doing this entails filling out another application, contacting human resources to renew our payment deduction from our paychecks and essentially adds unnecessary paperwork for us and the school district. But we all know how much teachers love paperwork! This particular part of the bill makes as much sense as my wife and I renewing our marriage license yearly or having to renew our mortgage and car loan applications on a yearly basis. Teachers are professionals and if we want to terminate our membership (which we are free to do any time) we are well aware how to take the appropriate steps.

Currently union membership is anonymous. SB 1014 will make named membership rosters available to the Public Employee Relations Commission. Don’t worry readers, I don’t know what that is either so let me translate. Currently principals do not have an active roster of who is a member and who is not a member at each school for privacy reasons. This helps ensure that members (or non-members) are not targeted. I think my fellow Republicans will see many unintended consequences that will hurt the very people they want to “strengthen;” non-members. Let’s think about this from a principal’s perspective. If a school administrator has to reduce his or her workforce (Which happens quite often) AND they have access to an active roster, they will likely target the non-members. Why? Non-members will not be able to “put up a fight” that an active member will be able to. Active members have the power of representation, which is a best advantage of being in the local union. A union member has someone that will fight for their rights and exhaust every avenue possible for a particular member to keep their job. Your bill will likely hurt YOUR BASE of voters.

So my fellow Republican leaders please stick to your strengths like battling COVID-19, getting people vaccinated, growing our economy and getting our state back to normal (I am sick of wearing a mask!!). The citizens of Florida need you focused on that more than ever!

Doug Deters

Clay County teacher

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