The officers of the Santa Rosa Professional Educators were informed by their parent union, the Florida Education Association, that they were behind in dues, and were about to be absorbed into a larger, regional unit. They disagreed, and voted unanimously to end their relationship with both FEA and NEA.
That was 18 months ago, and FEA hasn’t sat idly by. Two attempts to challenge the disaffiliation failed, and now comes the unveiling of a rival local, the Santa Rosa Education Association, which is affiliated with FEA and NEA.
The new organization claims to have 100 dues-paying members and filed paperwork with the state labor board to challenge SRPE for representation rights. Teachers unions fight tooth-and-nail to maintain agency fee laws, but the task for FEA and NEA is made easier because Florida does not have an agency fee law. Those who want FEA and NEA back are not required to also financially support SRPE, their exclusive bargaining agent.
This has become standard procedure at NEA, which formed a competing local in Memphis immediately after the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association seceded in 2015.
One Santa Rosa teacher finds this newfound union attention curious. “I’ve been in the SRPE since 1999 (and) I’ve been on the negotiation team since 2012,” he said. “I’ve never seen a person from the FEA in this county until we disaffiliated.”