It was a long night of bitter partisan debate in the Iowa House where majority Democrats have offered legislation that significantly strengthens the bargaining rights of government workers who belong to a union, including teachers. Debate lasted until nearly 3 a.m. and resumed at about 9:30 this morning
To the dismay of Republicans, the legislation would allow contract negotiations to include not only staffing levels, such as how many students a teacher should have in their classroom, but the terms for firing. Representative Jodi Tymeson, a Republican from Winterset, says the change will strip the authority of local school boards. "It strikes out the fact that management has the ability to set standards for performance, so — yes — if there is a substandard teacher, then management has no control over that anymore," Tymeson says.
Republicans charge Democrats are trying to ram the proposal through without proper public scrutiny, bringing it up when many school officials are on spring break. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy says he intentionally timed the proceedings to minimize what he knew would be rancorous debate. "Anything that benefits labor unions, the (House Republican) Leader likes to destroy. Truly, he hates labor unions so this shrinks the length of the debate to probably today rather than having it be several weeks long," McCarthy says.
McCarthy has employed a rarely used procedure to force a vote on the proposal by noon today (Thursday), and Senate Democratic leaders intend to quickly take up the measure. Democrats argue 27 other states which have similar laws, but Republicans charge the measure is payback to unions who help elect Democrats.