Teacher labor bills: Round 3 Monday

Here we go again. A third round of teacher negotiation bills is expected to pop up in the Senate Education Committee Monday.

Based on the committee’s jam-packed agenda, it’s likely senators will hear variations on some familiar themes: bills that would eliminate longstanding “evergreen” clauses between teachers unions and school districts; legislation allowing school districts to cut teacher salaries; and legislation that might require teachers’ unions to prove that they represent at least half of a district’s staff. The Idaho School Boards Association will present these rewrites.

Meanwhile, the Idaho Education Association will come back with a rewrite of its own: a bill defining when a school district can declare a “financial emergency,” and budget accordingly.

The ISBA and the IEA have disagreed, publicly and privately, about these collective bargaining issues throughout the session. The ISBA has said these bills would allow school trustees to better control spending. The IEA has castigated the school boards for recycling ideas from Proposition 1, the labor law voters rejected in November.

And elsewhere on the collective bargaining front … Meanwhile, some pieces of the collective bargaining puzzle are quietly sailing through the Legislature. The Senate voted 34-0 Friday to pass Senate Bill 1098, which would again require school boards and unions to negotiate in open session. This language was a component of Proposition 1. As noted by SB 1098 floor sponsor Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, both the ISBA and the IEA support putting this language back on the books. The bill now goes to the House.