Wisconsin’s legislature may still be deadlocked over a proposal to restrict collective bargaining rights for public employee unions, but on Tuesday in Idaho, the state legislature approved a bill to do just that for the state’s unionized teachers.
The law, which cleared the House by a 48-22 vote, would permit teachers to bargain solely for pay and benefits, but not for other aspects of their jobs, such as class size. The state Senate had approved the bill in February, and it now only needs to be signed by Gov. Butch Otter (R) — who helped craft the bill — to become law.
The bill, SB 1108, is part of Gov. Otter’s Idaho’ s Students Come First initiative, a larger legislative drive to reform the state’s public schools. In addition to limiting collective bargaining, it also eliminates tenure, limits the length of teacher contracts to one year, and ends the so-called “last in, first out” method of determining which teachers to let go when layoffs must be made.
The bill would also bar collective bargaining altogether unless a union can prove that it represents at least half of all teachers in a given district.
A statement of intent included with the bill states its purpose:
This legislation returns decision-making powers to locally elected school boards and creates a more professional and accountable work force.
Supporters of the bill have said it is a necessary step toward reigning in public school spending; the bill’s statement of intent claims the bill will save the state $9.4 million annually.
The Idaho bill is the latest effort to cut back on public employee unions’ right to collectively bargain. Last week, the Ohio State Senate approved a measure to limit collective bargaining and prevent public employees from going on strike.
Read the full scope of the bill here.