Idaho Senate votes to curtail teacher's union

SALMON, Idaho Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:14pm EST

Related Topics

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - By a 20-15 vote, the Idaho Senate on Thursday approved legislation that curtails collective bargaining by public school teachers.

The measure restricts collective bargaining to salaries and benefits, removing from negotiations such provisions as class sizes, teacher workload and promotions.

Crafted by the state's schools chief and endorsed by the legislature's Republican leaders and Governor Butch Otter, the bill bans collective bargaining unless the teachers union could prove it represented more than 50 percent of educators in a school district.

The legislation now heads to the House, where passage is expected.

The measure also eliminates seniority as a factor in teacher layoffs and replaces tenure for some current, and all future teachers with one- or two-year contracts.

Sen. John Goedde, head of the senate's education panel, on Thursday said the legislation was about restoring local control since it gives school boards and administrators more flexibility to hire and fire teachers.

"This bill isn't about collective bargaining; it's about putting students first," he said.

The Idaho Education Association, the union representing more than 12,000 elementary and secondary school teachers, has criticized the bill as anti-teacher and anti-union.

The legislation has come under fire from Idaho's minority Democrats as well as many teachers and parents. As many as 2,000 people protested the bill and other education proposals in rallies across the state on Monday.

Senate Democrats on Thursday forced a reading of the entire bill by its backers and then led a failed attempt to postpone debate indefinitely.

Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai of Pocatello urged lawmakers to join him in opposing the measure.

"This bill is going to hit at the heart of every teacher," he said.

It is one of three bills that make up the plan by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna to overhaul the public education system for kindergarten through high schools.

Luna has said the plan, which would cut more than 750 teachers, will save millions of dollars at a time when the state is facing a projected shortfall of $90 million in tax revenues to meet the budget.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (6)
reasonable-to wrote:
I favor unions, but, the union situation has gotten out of control.
Union workers need join the rest of us.
Union were for the poor and underprivileged.
Now they are mostly for the well off – not rich but well off.
They nheed join the rest of us.

Feb 24, 2011 4:36pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Mamsmobe wrote:
David Koch and his millionaire buddies are salivating. This is part of a nationwide drive by American elites to smash labor completely. What’s at stake? The American standard of living. No effort is made to go after the banks who caused the crisis, instead teachers are blamed. This is insanity, and it reeks of fascism.

Feb 24, 2011 4:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Cromulent wrote:
Even FDR and George Meany thought public unions were a bad idea. Too bad today’s left has forgotten their sage advice.

Feb 24, 2011 4:52pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus