The Iowa State Education Association is appealing a district-court decision denying a challenge to the state’s collective bargaining law.
ISEA President Tammy Wawro called the law enacted by the 2017 Legislature “blatantly unfair” because it treats some public employees differently than others and raises barriers to union dues collection and recertification.
In April, the ISEA and Davenport Education Association challenged House File 291, raising constitutional challenges to the measure that made sweeping changes to Iowa’s 43-year-old law.
In October, a judge denied their motion for summary judgment, a procedural step asking the court to rule that the state — in this case, the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board — had no chance of winning.
Wawro, a Cedar Rapids teacher, expressed disappointment in that district court ruling.
“We will continue fighting hard for our members to ensure that they receive the same rights and privileges enjoyed by other employees,” Wawro said. “We also will continue to fight for the students in our care. Our professional environment is their learning environment.”
In their appeal, the associations are raising the same issues as in their initial case as well as asking the court to review the district court judge’s decision.
The Iowa Supreme Court may take the case or may send it to the Appeals Court for review. Either way, attorneys do not expect a decision until at least late 2018.
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In challenging the law, the ISEA asserted it creates two classes of public employees with different rights. Public safety employees are allowed to bargain on a wider range of issues than others.
The law limits most public-sector union contract negotiations to base wages capped by the cost of living, while eliminating such issues as health insurance and supplemental pay as mandatory topics for discussion.
The suit also challenges a provision of the law that prohibits payroll deductions for union dues but allows deductions for other organizations, such as nonprofit charities.
According to the Public Employment Relations Board, 466 union locals representing teachers and other public employees conducted recertification votes this fall. In 436 cases, the locals were recertified. Those locals that did not vote to recertify will be barred from unionizing for two years.
AFSCME Iowa Local 61, the state’s largest public sector union, also lost its motion for summary judgment and has not yet announced if it will appeal.
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