After a roughly nine hour debate, Republicans in the Iowa House today voted strictly along party lines to scale back Iowa’s collective bargaining law for public employees, but only for teachers and other school employees. Dozens of education groups lobbied hard against the bill, which could make it more likely that teachers would get smaller raises when the school and teachers union disagree. Mason City Democrat Sharon Steckman calls the bill an attack on public schools.
“Most of you went to public school,” Steckman says. “It’s a great equalizer. This bill does nothing to help reach our goal of world class schools. It is demoralizing to schools and teachers.”
Republican backers of the bill say the current law grants unrealistic raises.
Under current law, an outside arbitrator must side either with the district or the teachers union in a contract dispute. Macedonia Republican Greg Forristall says under the bill, an outside arbitrator would have more freedom to decide what the raise should be.
“It simply means the award can be within the scope of reality,” Forristall says. “So if the employer is offering one percent and the union is asking for nine percent, the award can be real.”
Republicans downplayed the opposition to the bill, calling it the work of political agitators. Democrats call the bill a distraction from the real issue facing lawmakers, which is how much to increase state school aid next year. Forristall criticized the opposition for what he calls posturing and pandering.
The Democratic-controlled Senate is not likely to take up the bill.