Educators Aren’t ‘Interchangeable Widgets’

According to Tammy Wawro, top boss of the NEA teacher union-affiliated Iowa
State Education Association, allowing school districts to offer higher pay to teachers who accept difficult assignments is bad for school employee “morale”! Credit : Scott Morgan/Freelance

Thanks to Iowa Reform, Hardworking Teachers Are Justly Rewarded

Until very recently, the teachers in Waterloo, Iowa, who were assigned to work with some of the most challenging special education students in the district, got paid no more than other teachers with much less difficult assignments, but similar seniority and paper credentials.

Not surprisingly, Waterloo teachers who got the same pay to do a much harder job frequently left the district.

Fortunately, thanks to H.F.291, a public-sector labor-policy reform adopted by Iowa legislators and signed by then-Gov. (now U.S. Ambassador to China) Terry Branstad in early 2017, Waterloo is now able to offer teachers a $6000 incentive to take difficult special-Ed assignments.

And the state’s government union bosses are furious about it.

‘It’s Common Sense,’ And ‘One of the Things We Were Hoping For’

For well over four decades, Big Labor wielded sweeping monopoly-bargaining power over how K-12 public school teachers and other civil servants in the Hawkeye State were compensated and managed under a special-interest law originally adopted in 1974.

But H.F.291 strips most government union bosses of the monopoly power to negotiate benefits and work rules for employees who don’t want a union and choose not to join as well as for union members.

It also prevents them from strong-arming school districts into acquiescence to deals mandating that every teacher’s pay be based exclusively on his or her seniority and paper credentials.

According to a news analysis appearing in the November 9 Des Moines Register, Waterloo school officials have taken advantage of their increased flexibility under H.F.291 to offer pay incentives “to retain some special education teachers and para-educators who work with students who have behavioral challenges.”

Waterloo Superintendent Jane Lindaman is glad they were able to do it. Special education teachers “should feel the support because it is coming with additional resources,” she told the Register.

And pro-Right to Work state Rep. Walt Rogers (R-Cedar Falls) agrees that Waterloo’s decision is a “positive shift” for public schools: “It’s common sense. It’s one of those things we were hoping for.”

Union-Label Politicians:  Districts Shouldn’t Have To Compete For Good Teachers

Last winter, the grass-roots support that made passage of H.F.291 through both chambers of the Iowa Legislature possible was mobilized in part by the National Right to Work Committee’s mail, e-mail and telecommunications activities.

Of course, the Committee would never have been able to implement this program without the generous support of its 2.8 million members.

Phone calls and e-mails from National Committee members and other pro-Right to Work citizens in Iowa helped steel the nerves of elected officials in the state capitol, ultimately making it possible for the reform to receive 53-47 approval in the House and 29-21 approval in the Senate.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King commented:

“One might suppose that a reform whose primary purposes were to stop teachers and many other civil servants from being treated like interchangeable widgets and curtail anti-taxpayer abuses wouldn’t have face serious opposition in Des Moines.

“But the unfortunate reality is that Big Labor bosses like Tammy Wawro, the head of the NEA teacher union-affiliated Iowa State Education Association, mounted furious protests against H.F.291 when it moved through the Hawkeye State House and Senate.

“And now they are vowing vengeance against lawmakers who voted for it and pro-Right to Work GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is expected to run for a four-year term this year.

“Incredibly, dyed-in-the-wool opponents of H.F.291 like state Rep. Sharon Steckman [D-Mason City] are actually claiming that it’s wrong for Iowa school districts to have to compete with one another for good teachers by offering pay incentives.”

Union Bosses Continue Legal Bids to Reinstate Full-Scale Monopoly Bargaining

Ms. King continued:

“All seven of the Democrat politicians who have declared they are running for Iowa governor this year are promising Big Labor they will fight to repeal H.F.291 if elected.

“And although two government union lawsuits to overturn H.F.291 were summarily dismissed this fall, Big Labor lawyers are appealing both decisions.

“Despite H.F.291’s obviously beneficial impact, this reform is still coming under heavy fire. Right to Work supporters will have to wage a sustained battle to keep it on the books.”

(Source: January 2018 National Right to Work Newsletter)