TOP
Florida’s War on Union Teachers
Advocates for the Support Our Schools organization held their rally before the start of a Sarasota school board meeting. Photo by Octavio Jones

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

This story is a collaboration with Mother Jones and Magnum Foundation. We asked photographers to show us the paradox of today’s labor movement. Even as the popularity of unions has grown over the last decade, actual membership has continued to decline. Can new enthusiasm revitalize American labor? Read about this unique moment for workers here.

“The challenges for the teacher union have never been more profound,” Rob Kriete, the head of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, explained. Under a new law in Florida, teachers unions must show that 60 percent of educators are paying dues or risk decertification.

As Gov. Ron DeSantis battles to reshape education in the state, the culture war is part of a class war: Unions are on the front lines of the fight over what educators can or (more often) cannot do. When book bans are in place, it is teachers—and their unions—stuck in the crossfire of DeSantis’ attack on public education.

“I’ve been a union member for going on 30 years now,” Kriete said. “With Gov. DeSantis, he’s trying to bring the death knell to the teacher unions. He’s trying to eradicate them in the state of Florida.”

This project looks at the public figures fighting over a workplace—how politicians, parents, and community members determine what it means to be an education worker in Florida. Attacks on unions don’t always look like nefarious bosses in boardrooms. Sometimes, it can be a mom wanting to make a teacher’s job harder.

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

Advocates for the Support Our Schools held a silent protest against Bridget Ziegler, the co-founder of Moms for Liberty and a school board member in Sarasota, Florida. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

Theoni Soublis, an education professor and former teacher poses for a portrait in her office at the University of Tampa. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

Rob Kriete, President of the Hillsborough County Teachers Association, poses for a portrait at his office in Tampa. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

Sarasota School board members (from left) Tim Enos, Karen Rose, and Bridget Ziegler observe the color guard during start of the Sarasota schools board meeting. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

Lisa Schurr of Sarasota is the co-founder of Support Our Schools, an educational advocacy group for Sarasota Public Schools. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

A Donald Trump supporter stands in the rear during the start of a Sarasota school board meeting. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

Sarasota school board members Karen Rose, Bridget Ziegler, and Tom Edwards talk the during start of the board meeting. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

A man gives his remarks during the public comments period. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

Alex Lieberman 14, a freshman at Pine View School and member of the social advocacy’s group SEE Alliance in downtown Sarasota. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

Advocates for Support Our Schools held a silent protest against the co-founder of Mom’s for Liberty and school board member Bridget Ziegler for the recent LGTBQ and book-banning restrictions. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Florida’s War on Union Teachers

A Donald Trump supporter heckles advocates from Support Our Schools during their rally before the start of a school board meeting. Photo by Octavio Jones

 

Octavio Jones is a documentary photographer and freelance visual journalist based in the Tampa Bay area.

Co-published with Mother Jones.

Save An Endangered Species: Journalists

Octavio Jones is a documentary photographer and freelance visual journalist based in the Tampa Bay area.

Skip to content