ISBA collective bargaining bills introduced

It took the Senate Education Committee less than 15 minutes to introduce four collective bargaining bills Monday — including proposals that were part of the repealed Students Come First laws.

But the hard work lies ahead. Senate Education chairman John Goedde said he will bring together stakeholders for negotiations — including the Idaho School Boards Association, which sponsored the bills, and the Idaho Education Association, a likely opponent.

“We’re not going to get 100 percent agreement,” Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, told reporters after Monday’s hearing.

The four ISBA proposals were printed on a party-line vote:

  • One would limit master agreements to one year in duration, and eliminate longstanding “evergreen clauses” negotiated by teachers’ unions and school boards. This was a component of Proposition 1, the Students Come First collective bargaining law.
  • One would require that a local teachers’ union ratify that it represents at least 50 percent of a district’s certified staff, and provide proof annually.
  • Another bill would allow a district to place a teacher on unpaid administrative leave, in the event of a criminal charge or a court restraining order. This bill also would allow a district to lower teacher pay — a component of Students Come First.
  • The fourth bill would streamline a school district employee’s grievance process. An employee could still take a grievance to district court, but under this bill, a court would be able to consider the results of the district’s review, rather than beginning the process anew.

ISBA executive director Karen Echeverria said the legislation steered around two objections IEA raised during the Students Come First referendums: continuing contracts, or tenure; and the scope of contract negotiations (Students Come First restricted the negotiation process to salaries and benefits).

“They’re all toned-down parts of what we saw in Students Come First,” Goedde said.

Sen. Branden Durst led the opposition Monday. On Twitter, the Boise Democrat  referred to the ISBA’s bills as “Luna Laws (version) 2.0.” In committee, Durst cited a recent Office of Performance Evaluations report finding “a strong undercurrent of despair” in Idaho’s teaching profession.

”I’m wondering how this improves teacher morale,” said Durst.

“We certainly aren’t trying defeat teacher morale,” Echeverria responded.

The ISBA is scheduled to present three companion bills in the House Education Committee Tuesday. The stakeholder group will meet this week, Goedde said.