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UNF staff union among those decertified in recent wave of Florida union purges

The University of North Florida’s unit of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which was the union that represented many USPS employees at the university, was decertified last month due to low membership.

This means that AFSCME no longer represents its employees, and its collective bargaining agreement is no longer in effect, so UNF now governs the terms and conditions of its employment.

The 60% membership requirement is part of Senate Bill 256, signed into law last May by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. It imposed many new rules on public sector unions across the state, with several exceptions for law enforcement, correctional and probation officers and firefighters.

Florida is a right-to-work state, meaning workers at union jobs are not required to become due-paying members to be covered by the CBA. Former AFSCME-UNF President Myron Kelly said this makes it difficult for unions to recruit 60% of employees and thus remain certified.

Kelly said he has worked at UNF for almost 24 years and has always been a union member.

“We tried to get our numbers up and get people to join because we bargained for everything we got,” he said. “All of us get $95 parking stipends, but they don’t have to give [us] the $95. We used to tell people, ‘You cannot afford not to be in the union.'”

Kelly said staff were eligible to become union members after their first month of paying dues. Members could decide how they wanted their dues paid, but he said most opted for them to be deducted from their paychecks every two weeks. SB 256 banned dues from being deducted from paychecks, so public employees must pay them directly to the union.

AFSCME could file for recertification with the state’s Public Employees Relations Commission if at least 30% of eligible employees sign the petition. Kelly said he is still working towards that goal.

“A couple of weeks ago, [AFSCME] emailed me about rejoining, but I had to have numbers,” he said. “So the whole thing is getting people to understand that the union is for everybody.”

Kelly said he is retiring soon but hopes the union will be recertified to restore UNF staff’s say in their working conditions.


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Jeanne Gilbert, Editor in Chief
Jeanne Gilbert is Spinnaker's current editor-in-chief and a sophomore majoring in public relations at the University of North Florida. She joined Spinnaker in the summer of 2023 as a volunteer. After graduating, Jeanne plans to continue in the newsroom or work in public relations.

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