USF grad student union decries Florida “union busting” bill

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University of South Florida
USF. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News. 2016.

Last week the Florida House passed a bill that critics call the “union busting bill;” our guest says it will hurt members in graduate assistants unions like the one she is co-president of at the University of South Florida.

The bill would decertify public sector unions that have less than 50 percent dues-paying members. So far the bill has not advanced in the state Senate.

WMNF News interviewed Erin Sauer with Graduate Assistants United at USF.

“Our union has less than 50% membership as do many teacher unions around the state, faculty unions at universities and colleges, staff unions like AFSCME — so, sanitation workers, janitorial staff, the EMTs, I’m sure many of their chapters have less than 50% membership. It’s very hard to maintain 50% membership. Particularly for GAU, for the graduate student union, because our labor force turns over so quickly. People are only there for two to five years.

“So, it’s hard to keep up with that. And because we live in Florida, union membership is not automatic. So we have to go around and have personal conversations with people. And using our volunteer time find people in our (bargaining) unit and get them to join or ask them to join and sign membership cards. None of that happens automatically.”

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