Florida Republican targeting public sector unions got $19,000 from business groups last month | Florida News | Orlando

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Florida Sen. Blaise Ingoglia, a Republican who’s filed legislation targeting public sector unions, raked in $19,000 from pro-business groups in March, and $10,000 from a political action committee tied to Florida’s 2020 “ghost candidate” scandal.

According to campaign finance filings, Inglogia’s political action committee Government Gone Wild received more than $100,000 in March contributions.

Of that, the PAC received $10,000 from the Voice of Florida Business PAC; $5,000 from the Associated Industries of Florida business group; and $4,000 from the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, an organization that regularly takes anti-union positions and which notably opposed a 2020 ballot initiative to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 by October 2026.

Sen. Ingoglia’s PAC also received $10,000 from the Floridians for Economic Advancement, a committee tied to a 2020 “ghost candidate” probe, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel and other news outlets.

That investigation tied three independent “ghost” candidates who ran for three Florida Senate seats in 2020 to a major advertising blitz, funded by dark money, developed in an apparent attempt to help Republicans win those races.

Sen. Ingoglia’s bill, SB 256, described as “union-busting” by critics, was approved by the Florida Senate largely along party lines last week, with five Republicans crossing party lines to oppose it.

Described by Ingoglia himself as “pro-union,” the bill would ban the automatic deduction of union dues from union members’ paychecks (similar to legislation proposed in several other states), require unions to have audited financial statements (which Republican Joe Gruters said could unduly burden smaller unions) and require unions to maintain a membership of at least 60% of employees eligible in order to remain certified (or valid).

Since Florida’s a right to work state, you don’t need to be a dues-paying union member in order to reap the benefits of a union contract — such as scheduled raises, paid sick leave or duty-free lunch breaks for teachers — covering your workplace. So there’s less incentive to sign up.

The controversial bill, which has exemptions for unions representing cops and firefighters (whose unions generally endorse and contribute to the campaigns of Republicans), has been fiercely opposed by Florida’s labor unions, and is widely perceived as an attack on Florida’s teachers unions, which represent a large chunk of the state’s unionized public sector workforce.

Since Florida’s legislative session kicked off last month, dozens of union members from across the state — including teachers, transit workers, public healthcare workers and public works employees — traveled up to Tallahassee to demand lawmakers oppose it.

Self-described Republican union members have said the bill infringes on their conservative principles of freedom and small government. A similar House version of the bill, sponsored by Republican Dean Black, still needs approval from one more committee before going to the full House.

Rep. Black’s “True Conservatives” PAC, for the record, hasn’t reported its March contributions yet. wCandidates and committees face a deadline of Monday, April 10, to file reports showing finance activity through March 31.

Although, Black did get a $1,000 donation directly to his 2024 campaign fund in February from the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association, a state affiliate of the National Restaurant Association that’s also lobbied against pro-labor initiatives.

Are you a public sector worker in Florida who has thoughts about this bill (in favor or against)? Let us know! You can send those over to reporter McKenna Schueler at [email protected]

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