Penalties of Collective Work Stoppages, Strikes and “Sick Outs” in Florida
UFF guidance for members during COVID-19 Pandemic
Please also see the UFF memo “Right to Refuse Unsafe Working Conditions” from October 7, 2020. All individual and collective actions come with risks and rewards. Please weigh these before deciding what is best for you, your colleagues and your family’s physical, mental, and financial health and safety.
All public employees do enjoy the constitutional right to assemble and the right to collectively bargain. UFF supports members in exercising these rights. Forms of action that are legal include: “work-the-contract” where you only preform the minimum outlined in your contract (no extra hours, no extra duties), wearing buttons or stickers to meetings/events, protesting/picketing (but not blocking access), as well as speaking out in the press or at events.
The Florida Constitution explicitly states that “public employees do not have the right to strike” (Art. 1, s.6) and this is reiterated by statute (§ 447.505, Fla. Stat.) that lays out harsh penalties for participating employees and unions. Illegal work stoppages include, but are not limited to, a strike or calling-in sick as an organized campaign (a “sick out”).
The union and public employees are subject to the following penalties for a strike or work stoppage:
- If re-employed, 18 months of probation “at will”
- If re-employed, compensation cannot exceed that received before the strike and no raise for at least 1 year
- Forfeit all retirement benefits
- Possible action against teaching certificate (if applicable)
- Revocation of certification as the exclusive bargaining agent
- Revocation of the right of dues deduction
- Officers and employees fined between $50-$100 for each calendar day of strike
- $20,000 each calendar day of the strike or the approximate cost to the public for the strike
UFF is obligated to inform you of these draconian penalties. Staff and leaders stand ready to assist all members in their pursuit of a strong voice in decisions that affect the health and lives of workers, students and the public during this unprecedented worldwide COVID-19 Pandemic.
*Distributed by UFF on November 17, 2020