Idaho teacher union may ask voters to overturn curbs

March 19, 2011

(Reuters) – The Idaho state teachers union said on Friday it may ask voters to overturn a just-passed law that curtails public school teachers’ collective bargaining rights.

The law ends tenure and removes issues like workload and class size from contract negotiations between school administrators and the 12,000 teachers represented by the Idaho Education Association.

The association on Friday filed petitions with the Idaho elections office in an early move to take to the 2012 ballot the question of whether the law should be repealed.

It is one of two laws, both signed Thursday by Idaho’s Republican governor, affecting school teachers in public schools for kindergarten through high school. The other measure ties teacher pay raises and bonuses to factors like student performance instead of seniority.

The teachers union is taking aim at both laws, saying one muzzles teachers while the other will unnecessarily cost the state tens of millions of dollars. The legislature’s Republican leaders gave final approval this month to the bills, claiming the measures would improve education and save money.

Union officials said Friday’s action is preliminary.

“We’re in the exploratory phase and no final decisions have been made,” union president Sherri Wood said in a statement about the campaign to roll back the laws.

To take the repeal to the ballot, the union must gather the signatures of 47,432 Idaho voters within 60 days of the close of the current legislative session.

(Reporting by Laura Zuckerman, Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)


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