SEBRING — Senate Bill 78 would complicate the unionization process with needless bureaucracy, according to unions in the Sunshine State who strongly oppose the legislation from Sen. Ray Rodrigues — R, Estero.

The local teachers union — Highlands County Education Association — has shared many statements in opposition SB 78 including from the Florida AFL-CIO, which states, in this time of crisis, Florida’s legislature is responding by jamming through legislation that seeks to prevent Florida’s frontline public service workers from joining a union.

Senate Bill 78 is part of a national push by billionaire-funded think tanks to make the unionization process needlessly complicated in order to suppress membership. If passed, the legislation would put employers in charge of the membership process for the first time in Florida’s history and prevent union members from automatically renewing their membership, according to the AFL-CIO.

Heartland area Florida Education Association representative Jim Demchak, who negotiates for the local teacher and school support employee unions, provided the FEA’s statement on its opposition to the bill.

“At a time where we need solutions to the very real problems teachers, staff and students face, Senate Bill 78 would instead try to solve problems that do not exist by adding additional regulations and bureaucracy and attacking the ability to be a member of their union,” according to the FEA.

The bill places an undue burden on the employer as well as the employee. Once the employer receives a signed dues authorization, the employer must “confirm with the employee, electronically or by other means, that he or she authorized the deduction of dues and uniform assessments.”

This puts the employer in charge of the dues authorization process for the first time in history. SB 78 places a burden on workers who want to remain a member of their union. By forcing workers to reauthorize every time a new contract is signed, a member would have to submit a re-authorization form to remain a member when they have no intention of leaving the union, the FEA states.

The bill, which was filed on Jan. 12, passed the Governmental Oversight and Accountability committed by a 4-2 vote on Jan. 27.

Currently, the legislation is being reviewed by the Judiciary Committee.