Dozens of Iowa schools boards have rushed to approve contracts with teachers, to avoid the new state law on collective bargaining that took effect today.
Tammy Wawro is president of the Iowa State Education Association, the state teacher’s union. “That tells me superintendents, school boards are on our side,” Wawro said at a news conference Thursday. “You know what a two-year agreement gives us? It gives us November of 2018.”
Iowans will be electing new legislators and there’ll be an election for governor in 2018. Republican legislators would have to be defeated by Democrats and a Democratic governor would have to be elected to have a chance to undo the new law.
Iowa Federation of Labor president Ken Sager said GOP stands on the minimum wage and “defunding” Planned Parenthood are expanding their opposition coalition for 2018.
“Our people are jacked up right now…This is not the Iowa that we’re all accustomed to,” Sager said at the news conference. “I mean, this is a radical agenda…I don’t think Iowans want to be part of that game. I think they want to be engaged in the process and people that have not volunteered since I’ve been around in the labor movement are stepping forward. They’re engaging. There are people who are not members of any of our unions who are standing up and saying: ‘This is wrong.'”
Danny Homan is president of AFSCME Council 61, the union that represents 40,000 public sector workers.
“We have people showing up in numbers that have never shown up before. Why? Because they are being attacked. They get it,” Homan said. “Our job now, my job now is to figure out how to survive under this law, but, secondly, how to make sure my members never forget what was done to them on this day.”
The Iowa House and Senate approved legislation that reduced collective bargaining rights for public workers yesterday and Governor Terry Branstad signed the bill into law today. Wawro said membership in her union has increased as the legislature debated the bill and contract talks intensified in districts around the state.
“Our members choose to be here and right now, what has happened to them, we are feeling the love from our membership right now,” Wawro said. “Let me be pretty clear on that.”
At least two school districts rushed to sign contracts this morning, hoping to complete negotiations before the governor signed the bill. However, the law took effective at 12:01 a.m. this morning. That’s because the bill became law on the date it was signed, not immediately after the time it was signed.