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Republicans rip Democrats on school collective bargaining

Iowa capitol
Iowa capitol

DES MOINES – Republicans say that teachers and administrators in Iowa school districts have to good enough already – if not too good – and are working to set back public-sector unions that fight for their collective bargaining rights.

According to a GOP newsletter:

Collective Bargaining/Arbitration Reform

The playing field is wildly tipped in favor of public-sector unions and against the tax- payers. HF 549, sent to the Senate this week, begins to level that playing field for school boards and administrators in negoti- ating contracts with teachers unions and helping rein in costs and align them with revenue. School districts, like the rest of government, should not spend money it does not have. School districts need the tools to contain costs. The bill makes three changes to the binding arbitration section of the Iowa Public Employment Relations Act:

Private Sector Comparison: Requires an arbitrator to consider a private sector work- er’s comparison of wages, hours, and con- ditions of employment when rendering an arbitration decision. Under current law an arbitrator can only look at a comparison of other public sector worker’s wages and benefits.

Ability to Pay and Tax: Prohibits an arbitra-

tor to consider the ability of the public em- ployer to levy taxes, and the ability of the public employer to finance economic ad- justments. Currently arbitrators are re- quired to consider the fact that the public employer can raise taxes to pay for in- creased wages or benefits.

Selection of a Midpoint: Allows an arbitra- tor to pick between the two parties final impasse item offers, rather than one or the other which is required by current law.

Democrats attempted to make the case the HF 549 continues a trend that attacks school district staff. The facts say the op- posite: In the last ten years, teacher sala- ries have gone up 36.6%. Increasing teacher salaries has been a priority for Re- publicans in the House for over a decade. In addition to teacher salaries going up, the number of full-time teachers, administrators and total school employment are all up. The numbers below clearly show school district staff are NOT under attack.

 In the last ten years, student enrollment has gone down 1.3%.

 In the last ten years, the number of full -time teachers has gone up 2.4%.

 In the last ten years, school employ- ment has gone up 4.3%.

 In the last ten years, the number of administrators has gone up 3%.

House Democrats also made the case that the current collective bargaining law is working great and doesn’t need to be changed. Yet it was Democrats who at- tempted to gut the collective bargaining law and our Right to Work law by passing the Forced Unionism bill in 2007 and the Open Scope Bargaining Bill in 2008. The Open Scope Bargaining Bill was so flawed Gov. Culver was forced to veto it over impending property tax increases.

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