Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bargaining bill in limbo as adjournment nears

Gov. Chet Culver has been meeting with legislative leaders as well as with the ISEA and other stakeholder groups in an attempt to reach a compromise over a bill to expand the scope of bargaining for public employees. But the bill, HF 2645, faces an uncertain future as the countdown to adjournment begins. Lawmakers' expense money runs out on April 22, which is the expected adjournment day. Some observers, however, are predicting that the gavel will fall before that.

Culver has said he is considering vetoing the measure which, if signed, would mark the first significant change in the collective bargaining law since it was passed in 1974. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has filed a "motion to reconsider" on the bill. That, in effect, puts it on hold for now.

The bill levels the playing field for educators and other public employees at the bargaining table by allowing them to negotiate over such issues as class size, preparation time, in-service, and a whole host of other topics that under the current law (Chapter 20 of the Iowa Code) are deemed "permissive." It also streamlines the teacher termination process by eliminating the board hearing and making the adjudicator's decision binding on both parties.

ISEA members should contact the Governor immediately and urge him to put educators on an equal footing with management and give them a stronger voice in discussing professional issues that impact student achievement. Call 515-281-5211 or click here to send him an e-mail message. Please also take a moment to thank the Democrats in the House and Senate for their support on this important issue. Click here for contact information.