While teachers in many states are striking to have some voice in their future, some are wondering why Sioux City teachers don’t take the cue from West Virginia, Oklahoma or Arizona. After all, 30 percent of teachers will take a direct pay cut and the rest of the educators may lose salary because the raise negotiated won’t cover an insurance increase that no longer can be bargained. Why not walk out?
The answer is in collective bargaining history. In 1974, Iowa teachers made a deal with the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Robert Ray. This deal traded their right to withhold their work (strike) in exchange for the ability to bargain wages, benefits like insurances, transfers, and a host of other work-related matters.
In February 2017, the Legislature and Gov. Terry Branstad changed the deal, taking almost all control over these same issues from public sector employees, including educators, but keeping in place stiff penalties for strikes.
What are the penalties for striking? The union would be fined $10,000 per day and be decertified for two years. Individuals would be fined $500 per day and would immediately have their employment terminated and would be unable to be employed by the same employer for one year. Both the individual and union leaders could be jailed for up to six months.
In other words, the current Legislature and administration decimated collective bargaining but allows school boards to bully Iowa educators into compliance. Iowans can do better. - Myron Halverson, Sioux City