Thursday, November 1, 2007

ISEA wins Supreme Court case protecting bargaining rights

ISEA Advocacy Services has won a huge victory for educators in a contract dispute that went all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court. In the case involving the Waterloo Education Association and the Waterloo school district, the high court ruled on Oct. 19 that the issue of overload pay is a mandatory subject of bargaining. The Association sought to negotiate overload pay for persons teaching more than a specified number of minutes or periods within the school day.

Iowa's collective bargaining law, also known as Chapter 20, outlines a "laundry list" of topics which are mandatory subjects of bargaining. Other topics are deemed "permissive," which means the employer can refuse to even discuss the issue. In a previous case, the court had ruled that a similar overload pay proposal was permissive and suggested any bargaining proposal impacting on a management right, as outlined in Chapter 20, would be held permissive. ISEA knew this original ruling posed a real threat to bargaining rights and represented the Waterloo Education Association in this second case to protect the scope of bargaining for teachers and other public employees. The case eventually reached the Iowa Supreme Court whose decision allows public employees to return to the bargaining table with overload proposals that must be negotiated by the employer. In addition, the court ruled the "management rights infringement" test need not be applied when the topic of the proposal clearly falls within the definition of an item on the mandatory list in Chapter 20.