Alachua County Education Association pushes membership

Alachua County Education Association logo
Alachua County Education Association

The Alachua County Education Association (ACEA) is at risk of having its certification revoked if it does not meet several new state requirements by April 24. 

Senate Bill 256, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law last May, prohibits dues from being deducted from teachers’ salaries.  Throughout the school year, ACEA has been pushing to get employees of Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) signed up for an electronic service to pay their dues. 

Carmen Ward, ACEA president, said many employees have struggled to sign up for eDues because the technology is confusing to them. She said the union had 2,300 people enrolled before the new law, but this year that number is down to 1,900 because membership is defined by whether an employee is paying union dues. 

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The law exempts law enforcement, corrections and firefighters unions from the payroll deduction restriction, which Ward said makes her feel educators are being treated unfairly. 

“All the public employees are for the public good,” Ward said in a phone interview. “It is very disturbing that the state of Florida is attacking the educators… that also happens to be the largest union, it also happens to be highly female dominated.” 

Ward said ACEA also discovered recently that the state has split teachers and education support professionals into two separate categories, each of which is required to meet the 60% enrollment threshold. On the teacher side, Ward said the union has 65% enrollment, but the education support professionals are still at 53.5%. 

The deadline is April 24, but if employees want to pay dues through eDues, they must be set up in the system in time for their next pay period, with an April 12 deadline. Members could still pay their dues with a check until April 24. 

The new law also requires all union members to sign an authorization form, so even if the union gathers enough dues-paying members, it could still be decertified if the members haven’t signed the forms. Last week, ACEA organized a “Save the Union Day” to push authorization forms. 

During “Save the Union Day,” ACEA also asked its members to fill out interest forms, in case it fails to reach the threshold for either the authorization form or dues-paying members. 

The interest forms would be the first step in re-organizing the union, requiring 30% of the bargaining unit to show interest. ACEA has already topped 40% with interest forms and is still counting, but Ward said she is optimistic that the union will not need to reorganize at all. 

“We’re gonna beat this, we’re gonna survive,” Ward said. “Because you know what? People that are committed to educating children have a higher purpose, and they deserve the best working conditions, the best salaries that money can buy. And I just think that we have a collective voice together, we are passionate educators, and we’re going to prevail.” 

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Real Gainesville Citizen and Voter

“Senate Bill 256 . . . prohibits dues from being deducted from teachers’ salaries.”
“The law exempts law enforcement, corrections and firefighters unions from the payroll deduction restriction . . .”
I don’t get it. Why the differential treatment?


Probably because teachers’ unions historically lean democratic and the other unions mentioned typically lean republican… is an obvious misuse of government power to skew influence to the party currently in power. This has been the standard fare since Gov. Scott. They seem to forget that when the state flips blue or purple (and current demographics project it will), the other side will likely use the power of the State for it’s own ends as well.

Steve H

Use of government power to benefit the incumbents is a fact of life for any government under ANY party. It did not start with Gov. Scott.

Where are you getting your “purple” information?