• Teachers fear new language in education bill puts unions at risk

    By: Cierra Putman

    Updated:

    OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Teachers believe new language in an education bill an attempt to bust their union.

    Lawmakers tried and failed to make it easier to decertify unions in the past, but union leaders said the latest push might actually succeed.

    Teachers fear the bill has a better chance to pass because it's part of a bigger education bill tied to money and other school issues.

    Currently, the unions only need 30 percent of the workforce to stay certified. The bill would boost that percentage up to 50 percent.

    "The only way to keep us quiet is to decertify us," said Apryle Jackson, president of the Osceola County Education Association.

    Teachers said the bill has a better chance at passing because it's tied to money and deals with everything from bullying to charter schools.

    Orange, Osceola and Brevard counties report having 50 percent of teachers as paying members.

    Seminole was below at 47.9 percent and Volusia County higher with 70 percent.

    “Any union is at risk," said Orange County teachers' union President Wendy Doromal when asked if the union is at risk of being decertified.  

    Special education teacher Brian Moriarty said he's taught with and without a union before.

    “At this point in my career, I would never work at a job without a union," he said.  

    He and other teachers fear more teachers will leave the profession if pay and other protections are in jeopardy

    "Without a contract, everything is up for grabs," said teacher David Contron. "If people can't afford to be teachers, then the kids suffer.”

    The Osceola County union is particularly worried about educational support professionals who are also covered in the bill since they make less money and fewer of those workers pay union dues.

    The sponsor of the bill was not available for comment.

     

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