Police, firefighters could be exempted from union dues bill

Unions representing law-enforcement officers and firefighters could be exempted from a controversial Senate proposal that would place new requirements on union dues paid by government employees.

The Senate Rules Committee is slated Tuesday to take up the proposal (SB 78), which has drawn fierce opposition from unions. But a proposed amendment filed by bill sponsor Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, would exempt unions representing law enforcement officers and firefighters from the requirements.

If the amendment is approved Tuesday, the bill would continue to apply to unions, such as the Florida Education Association teachers union, that have long been major supporters of Democratic political candidates. The proposed requirements would include adding a step in which government employers would have to confirm with workers that they want dues taken out of their pay before the deductions could start.

Currently, union bargaining agents can submit written requests to begin deductions. Also, the bill would require deductions to be reauthorized when new collective bargaining agreements are reached or after three years, whichever happens first.