Leon Co. teachers push back against DeSantis targeting union dues

Leon Classroom Teachers Association sign
Leon Classroom Teachers Association sign(WCTV)
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 9:33 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Several Leon Co. teachers are pushing back against statements made by Gov. DeSantis on Monday.

DeSantis expressed support for a proposal which would prevent union dues from being deducted from teachers’ paychecks. He said the proposal would maximize teachers’ freedom to choose and provide a more accurate reflection of who wants to be part of these unions. Currently, teachers can choose to opt-in for automatic deductions, or choose not to be part of the union at all, and not pay the monthly fee.

Local educators like Shari Gewanter say the proposal would make the process less convenient for union members.

“I don’t want to have to write a check every month,” Gewanter said. " I just want it to be taken off the top of my paycheck.”

Gewanter is a first-grade teacher, and says she believes the governor’s efforts are distracting from more pressing issues.

“This is a ridiculous diversion away from what really needs to happen, which is to properly fund our public schools to attract and retain teachers into this profession,” Gewanter said.

Others, including Sandra Meador, middle school teacher and treasurer of the local teachers union, shared similar sentiments.

“I’m more concerned with keeping the teachers that I mentor that are so good and deserve a future and education,” Meador said. “Teaching is a wonderful profession. And it doesn’t need to turn into a political battle.”

The Florida Education Association also released a statement in opposition to DeSantis’s comments, saying:

“The past few weeks, FEA has been asking educators to fill out a wishlist with what they’re hopeful for in 2023. Common themes have been less testing, more resources and support, more stability — all things that would help us better serve our students and alleviate the teacher and staff shortage. Gov. DeSantis, however, appears to prioritize politics. Only a Grinch would attack teachers’ freedom to join in union to advocate for our students and schools.”