Democrats and Republicans in the Iowa House are embroiled in a bitter debate over a bill that would significantly strengthen the bargaining position of government employees in Iowa, including teachers. The legislation would expand the items that could be part of wage negotiations, things like overtime pay, uniforms or, for teachers, the size of their classes.
House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy argues the change would bring Iowa in line with 27 other states that have what?s called open scope bargaining for public sector workers. "Right now, there’s an inequitable playing field at the negoating field. If somebody wants to talk about uniforms, that’s illegal if the other party says, ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’" McCarthy says. "You can’t even talk about it in good faith. That’s current law."
Republicans say the bill’s payback for unions who support Democrats at the polls. Representative Lance Horbach, a Republican from Tama, says the laundry list of changes would take too much power away from schoolboards since just about everything about a teacher’s job would be spelled out in their contract. "Let me just read a couple: staffing levels, retirement systems, procedures for staff reduction, inservice training," Horbach says. "I’ve gotta tell you. One of my high school principals called me and he said it better than I could ever say it: ‘What’s left for us to manage?’"
Republicans were furious that the bill was brought up while school administrators are away for spring break. Democrats counter that Republicans hate unions.