I Voted For Collective Bargaining Reform to Save Iowa’s Schools

By Ken Rizer

State Representative Ken Rizer (R-Marion) during floor debate.
Photo credit: Iowa House Republicans

After three days of intense debate, on Thursday I was proud to vote for public sector collective bargaining reform. I voted for this bill for one overriding reason: to save Iowa’s public schools.

Iowa’s collective bargaining law has hurt our schools. Since passage in the early 1970′s, this law’s lack of teeth regarding arbitration has forced school districts to accept annual collective bargaining settlements well above what the districts received in revenue. Whether the state increased K-12 funding annually by 1%, 2%, 4% or even 6% didn’t matter, as the structure of Iowa’s law ensured that settlement amounts were greater than the districts took in. Given that 80-85% of a school district’s expenses are in that collective bargaining agreement, this was simply unsustainable.

As an example, the four school districts I represent (Marion, Linn-Mar, Cedar Rapids, College Community) have received revenue increases the past 2 years of 2.25% and 1.25%, well above the inflation rate and in line with the average .5% annual increase above inflation that our districts have gotten since the early 70′s. Yet all four of those districts had collectively bargained annual increases of approximately 3.5%. No organization, whether an Iowa family, a non-profit, a private company or a school district can survive by perennially increasing expenses by 1%-2.25% beyond revenue. So how did these districts manage, given that expenses were increasing beyond revenue? They did so by firing new teachers, cutting programs, slowing hiring, and taking other actions to afford the settlements. The results were larger classroom sizes, fewer educational options for our kids, and stressed-out teachers.

I don’t blame anyone or any group for this unsustainable circumstance. Union bosses are doing what union bosses do, looking out for their members. Superintendents are doing what superintendents do, …read more

Source: Caffeinated Thoughts Education