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Why Union?

A Community of Professionals:

MEA & FEA Membership




Members and potential members are always asking-"what does the union do?" It does a lot more than most members realize.

Why join? Here are a few of the top reasons.

But teachers and education staff professionals join FEA because of its many accomplishments in defending members and public education.


  • A Voice on the Job. Union workers have the right to negotiate with their employer over wages, hours, benefits and working conditions. Without a union, management makes all the decisions alone. Without collective bargaining, Florida teachers and education staff professionals (ESPs) would have no legal rights at all under the state's "right to work" labor laws.
  • Strength in Numbers. Union workers negotiate and organize for improvements as a unified group instead of as individuals. When we work together, this collective force translates into more power and a better chance of getting our voices heard.
  • A Legally Binding Written Contract.  Union workers have a contract that defines and guarantees the terms of our employment. The members of the union negotiate their contract with management. With help from union staff, we decide what gets proposed, elect our own bargaining team, negotiate the contract and vote to approve the contract.
  • Protection and Support. Union workers need the assurance that our workplace rights, including health and safety conditions, are being upheld and monitored and ensure the ability to challenge any unfair or questionable decisions or actions.
  • Respect. Union workers join, not because we’re against our employer, but because we want to improve our jobs by joining with co-workers to gain greater respect and control over our worksite and employment.

The FEA has been fighting for you for more than a decade. Rarely do we reflect on our success.

• We’ve recruited more members.

• Added new bargaining units.

• Won numerous local school board races and increases in funding for schools.

• Fought Senate Bill 6, the “teacher assault bill.”

• Filed legal challenges to unconstitutional legislation and improper rules.

• Defended member rights in hearings and in court.

• Took Jeb Bush’s voucher scheme all the way to the Florida Supreme Court -- and won.

• Won a constitutional amendment that set smaller class sizes for all grade levels AND had it reaffirmed in 2010 after repeated attempts by lawmakers to weaken or abolish smaller classes.


Did you know about the accomplishments below?



  • Supported and helped to passed the Education Jobs Bill in Congress, which helped keep teachers and other education workers from being laid off.
  • Supported and helped to pass health care reform in Congress, assuring that many of our students became covered by insurance.
  • Helped to pass Amendments 5 and 6, which set up a mechanism for the drawing of more fair legislative districts.
  • Lobbied against and helped stop in court Amendment 7, which would have made the passage of Amendments 5 and 6 moot.
  • Drafted and passed the bus driver bill - SB 1058.
  • Stopped wholesale changes to the Florida Retirement System.
  • Defeated a proposed constitutional amendment that would have paved the way for universal vouchers for all.
  • Objected to and unified support of locals to decline participation in the first round of the federal Race to the Top grant proposal.
  • Increased stakeholder support, participation and encouraged locals to sign on to the successful second round of Race to the Top.


  • Successfully steered all gaming proceeds to supplement the public education budget- SB 788.
  • Helped to draft language that won the right for unions to acts as supplemental education providers.
  • Organized a statewide Penny for Schools movement to raise awareness on increased funding for the education budget.
  • Stopped a bill on the 65 percent solution that would have directed 65 percent of every dollar to be spend in the classroom, while virtually eliminating funding for all other areas.
  • Stopped a TABOR (acronym comes from the term Taxpayers Bill of Rights) proposal that would have limited the amount of money a municipality could raise to help fund its schools.
  • Stopped the first anti-teacher-contract bill (The precursor of SB 6-type bills) - HB 1411.
  • Helped to implement the credible use of federal stimulus funds.


  • Added revised language to the Florida statutes to improve the Anti-Bullying Bill - HB 669.
  • Passed language to establish the Workplace Safety Acts - HB 967.
  • Redirected and reshaped the Ethics in Education Act - SB 1712.
  • Revised the A-Plus plan with new high school grading policies – SB 1908.
  • Helped to defeat a bill that would have required the teaching of evolution in science classes - SB 2692.
  • Successfully won legal challenges on proposed constitutional amendments from the Tax and Budget Reform Commission, including an 18-month lobbying effort that outright defeated proposals weakening class size rules and establishing TABOR.


  • Defeated vouchers for low performing schools - SB 2380.
  • Stopped school district breakup proposals - SB 2428.
  • Successfully negotiated implementation of MAP, which was a merit pay proposal that was vastly superior to those imposed by the Florida Department of Education  - SB 1226.


  • Passed some accountability for charter schools.
  • Won repeal of the BEST/Performance Pay Career Ladder law - HB 388.
  • Helped to maintain a positive number in the total education budget.
  • Forced repeal and revision of STAR and E-Comp merit pay plans.
  • Elected Alex Sink CFO, Charlie Justice to the Florida Senate, and Ron Klein to the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Re-elected Republican Alex Villalobos to the Florida Senate, despite a multimillion dollar effort by Jeb Bush to defeat him.


  • Passed the Paperwork Reduction Bill - HB 281.
  • Passed language requiring the Legislature to budget on three-year outlooks - SB 2144.
  • Passed voucher accountability legislation.
  • Passed two-mill flexibility language - SB 57.
  • Stopped a TABOR proposal- SB 362.
  • Defeated a huge voucher bill - HB 439.
  • Stopped the weakening of the class size language - SB 2090.
  • Offered to legislators a reasonable approach to class size, which is in vogue again in 2011 - HB 813 – Simmons.
  • Stopped Academic Freedom Higher Ed Bill - HB 837.
  • Helped to maintain a positive number in the total education budget.


  • Passed a code of conduct bill limiting use of cell phones and pagers - SB 184.
  • Limited terminal pay for administrators, but retained it for educators - SB 300.
  • Successful implementation of Universal Pre-K program.
  • Stopped food service privatization - HB 1773.
  • Put the 60 percent threshold in place, requiring all future constitutional amendments on the ballot to pass with 60 percent voter approval - HB 1723.
  • Helped to maintain a positive number in the total education budget.


  • Made improvement to the Teacher Authority Act -- a bill FEA drafted and passed - SB 30A.
  • Amended Charter School bill to include significant Charter Accountability Language - HB 55A.
  • Defeated Paycheck Deception Bill - HB 1357.
  • Defeated Anti-Collective Bargaining Bill for teachers - HB 173.
  • Defeated Privatization Bill HB 29.
  • Defeated a repeal of class size provisions - HB 1295.
  • Defeated class size voucher legislation- HB 45.
  • Defeated anti-collective bargaining on resolution of impasse - HB 1421.
  • Helped to maintain a positive number in the total education budget.


  • School Code Rewrite -- stopped all bad changes and maintained every significant provision FEA wanted (a nine-month project).
  • Preserved university boards as agent for collective bargaining.
  • Maintained full credit for teaching experience.
  • Kept the FEFP as Florida's funding formula.
  • Passed ESOL exception and credit.
  • Drafted and passed compensation for National Board Certification -HB 807.
  • Drafted and passed a bill which allowed school boards to be a part of Growth Management/Concurrency laws - SB 1906.
  • Defeated Universal Vouchers - HB 1587.
  • Defeated Privatization - HB 217.
  • Defeated provision of non-certified teachers in charter schools -HB 1665.
  • Helped to maintain a positive number in the total education budget.


  • Helped to maintain a positive number in the total education budget.
  • Defeated effort to give vouchers to students in overcrowded schools.- HB 303.
  • Passed Charter School Accountability on sponsorship and oversight - HB 269.
  • Defeated an effort to allow a rival organization (PEN) to administer liability insurance.
  • Defeated an effort to privatize school services.
  • Defeated Paycheck Deception.
  • Defeated provision to limit union use of funds to just bargaining.
  • Helped pass Sharpen the Pencil Act, which is a mart accounting of school districts budgets and spending habits. This helped districts use best financial practices and smartly use state financial resources.
  • Passed Barry Grunow Act, which provides benefits for the families of teachers who are killed on the job.  
  • Weakened the Educator Liability Insurance Act.
  • Passed DROP extension for teachers.
  • Defeated sick leave limitations bill - SB 638.


• Won a constitutional amendment that set smaller class sizes for all grade levels AND had it reaffirmed in 2010 after repeated attempts by lawmakers to weaken or abolish smaller classes.

You have a voice...

Make it heard with MEA!


Aug 19, 2012

Download: 6 Reasons Teachers Unions Are Good for Kids.pdf

Page Last Updated: Aug 19, 2012 (19:11:05)
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