Iowa teachers union loses round 1 in collective bargaining appeal

Judge refuses motion for summary judgment

Tammy Wawro

ISEA president
Tammy Wawro ISEA president

A Polk County judge has denied the state teachers union’s motion for summary judgment in a case challenging the collective bargaining law approved by the Iowa Legislature earlier this year.

The Iowa State Education Association and the Davenport Education Association in April challenged House File 291, raising constitutional challenges to the law that made sweeping changes to Iowa’s 43-year-old Chapter 20 public employee collective bargaining law.

ISEA President Tammy Wawro of Cedar Rapids expressed disappointment in the ruling Thursday by Judge Michael Huppert, who heard oral arguments in August, on what she called the initial step of the union’s lawsuit.

“We believe many aspects of this new law are blatantly unfair, treating some public employees in a manner different from others and putting obstacles in place for unions in terms of dues collection and recertification,” she said. “This litigation is one component of our fight to win back the rights taken from our members in the last legislative session.”

One of the changes requires ISEA locals to recertify — or vote to determine whether they will continue to be represented by the unions.

Wawro called the requirement that recertification be approved by a majority of the employees eligible to be represented by the union — rather than a majority of those voting — an “irrational voter universe.”

More than 23,000 employees at school districts with ISEA locals are voting on recertification this month.


A motion for summary judgment often is a procedural step in a lawsuit. The judgment does not necessarily reflect the court’s opinion of the merits of the case.

“We will continue moving forward with next steps, fighting hard for our members to ensure that they receive the same rights and privileges enjoyed by other employees,” Wawro said. “We are exploring all of our options, including an appeal.”

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