Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, has decided to use a pretense to generate hostility toward state employees. Under the guise of “the public’s right to know”, Scott has established a website which includes all state employees’ salaries as well as listing pensions of $100,000 or more.
The pensions are listed by office and do not disclose the recipient’s name; however, the information on state employees includes the employee’s name, salary, and date of hire. Under the misnomer of “holding government accountable”, Scott is using a thinly veiled tactic to generate animosity toward state employees.
Scott’s tactic is, in main part, due to the protection of collective bargaining provisions in the Florida State Constitution. In 1968, the applicable section of the Constitution was rewritten and now states:
The right of employees, by and through a labor organization, to bargain collectively shall not be denied or abridged. Public employees shall not have the right to strike.
In 1969, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the new constitutional provision, giving Florida state employees the right to bargain collectively. However, they do not have the right to strike. Originally in favor of collective bargaining and critical of Wisconsin’s governor, Scott now says he wants the Constitutional protection removed.
However, the constitutional protection makes it much more difficult to abolish collective bargaining. Unlike Mitch Daniels, who, with the stroke of a pen, ended Indiana’s collective bargaining provisions a few hours after he took office in 2005, or Scott Walker, who pushed legislation through the Wisconsin State legislature, Rick Scott is hemmed in by the Florida constitution. This surely has created a great deal of angst for the flip-flopping governor.
With Florida’s Constitution containing protection for worker collective bargaining, Scott must try another tactic to garner support to abolish the Constitutional provision. And, what better way to build support for abolishing collective bargaining than to pit worker against worker, private sector employee against public sector employee than to show wages for comparison?
Governor Scott’s plan is nothing short of a devious way of triggering warfare between state employees and private workforce employees.