Florida's New Law Overhauls Public Sector Labor Laws Related to Dues Deduction and Labor Organization Registration

Date   May 22, 2023

Executive Summary: On May 9, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 256, which overhauls Florida’s Public Employees Relations Act, implementing significant changes to procedures related to dues authorization and deduction, registration requirements, and certification procedures for public employers and public sector labor unions. However, labor unions representing law enforcement officers, correctional officers, correctional probation officers, and firefighters are exempted from most of the provisions of the new law.

Dues Deductions Prohibited: The most significant impact of the new law on public employers is the prohibition on deducting dues and uniform assessments from the wages of collective bargaining unit employees. The prohibition takes effect July 1, 2023. Thus, unions will be required to collect dues and uniform assessments directly from bargaining unit employees. This prohibition may supersede provisions in existing collective bargaining agreements (“CBAs”) requiring the collection of union dues. Accordingly, public employers who are currently obligated to collect union dues pursuant to a CBA must notify impacted unions if they intend to cease dues deduction. Public employers who are unsure of their obligations under an existing CBA should consult legal counsel.

Union Membership Authorization Form: Also beginning on July 1, 2023, public employees who desire to be dues paying members of a labor organization must sign and date a membership authorization form that identifies the name of the bargaining agent, the name of the employee, the class code and class title of the employee, the name of the public employer, the amount of the initiation fee and monthly dues, and the name and total compensation of the labor organization’s five highest compensated officers and employees. The member authorization form must also include the following statement in 14-point typeface:

The State of Florida is a right-to-work state. Membership or non-membership in a labor union is not required as a condition of employment, and union membership and payment of union dues and assessments are voluntary. Each person has the right to join and pay dues to a labor union or to refrain from joining and paying dues to a labor union. No employee may be discriminated against in any manner for joining and financially supporting a labor union or for refusing to join or financially support a labor union.

It is not clear whether public employees who have already authorized membership and/or dues deduction will be required to submit a new membership authorization form.

Revisions to Union Renewal and Recertification Process: The registration renewal process for employee organizations that have been certified as a bargaining agent for public employees will also significantly change beginning October 1, 2023. Thereafter, any renewal application of registration must include information regarding the number of employees in the bargaining unit, the number of bargaining unit members who have submitted signed membership authorization forms without a subsequent revocation, the number of bargaining unit members who paid dues, the number of bargaining unit members who did not pay dues, and verification of the foregoing by a certified public accountant.

If a renewal application reveals that fewer than 60 percent of bargaining unit members paid dues to the employee organization during the last registration period, the employee organization must petition the Public Employees Relations Commission for recertification within one month after the renewal application was submitted. The Commission will then hold a certification election, through which the employee organization may be recertified as the exclusive bargaining agent if more than 50 percent of ballots are cast in favor of the union. The recertification election will provide public employers an opportunity to educate their employees regarding the merits of union representation and will give employees the opportunity to vote against continued union representation.

Exclusions: The new law’s provisions regarding dues deduction, membership authorization, and registration renewal do not apply to employee organizations certified as bargaining agents for law enforcement officers, correctional officers, correctional probation officers, or firefighters. Additionally, public entities may petition for a waiver of the dues deduction and registration renewal provisions for bargaining units covering mass transit employees if the new law would jeopardize the employer’s eligibility to receive Federal Transit Administration funding.

Implementation: There remain some grey areas related to implementation, which the Commission will clarify through its rulemaking proceedings that will culminate in a public hearing anticipated to take place during the first full week of June. A lawsuit filed by various labor organizations challenging the new law is pending in federal court, and a hearing for a preliminary injunction is set for June 23.

The Bottom Line

Employers should begin planning for implementation, including notifying affected bargaining representatives of impending changes, but should consult with their labor attorney and continue to monitor pending litigation. If you have any questions regarding the new law or actions needed to ensure compliance before the law’s effective date, please contact the authors of this Alert, Mark Levitt, and Marc Sugerman,, who are both partners in our Orlando office. Of course, you can also contact the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.