Some Iowa Teachers to Vote Soon on Whether to Keep Their Union

Aug 28, 2017

The state’s largest teachers union is reaching out to teachers and other employees in 14 Iowa school districts and community colleges where critical recertification votes will take place next month.  

The voting is mandated by Iowa’s new collective bargaining law that went into effect this year.        

For all public sector workers including teachers, the new law requires regular votes to stay unionized which used to be automatic.

"I'm concerned that people don't understand." ISEA President Tammy Wawro

The Iowa State Education Association is getting the word out to union and non-union employees in the 14 schools to watch for the ballots which will be mailed out September 12th.      

“It's the busiest time of the year for them,” said President Tammy Wawro.   “It's imperative that their voice is heard.”

The bar for voting is high.

Whether or not you’re a union member, if you don’t vote it’s counted as a no.   

And if the vote falls short, the master contract covering all school employees becomes void.      

“If a unit does not recertify the contract is gone,” Wawro said.  “I’m concerned that people don’t understand.” 

Employees will have two weeks to return paper ballots by mail.    Wawro has personally visited all 14 schools to educate employees about the upcoming votes.

"The consequence of a loss is two-fold." PERB Chairman Mike Cormack

More school recertification votes will be conducted electronically in October.

The Iowa Public Employment Relations Board is overseeing the recertification process.

Board Chairman Mike Cormack explains that if a recertification vote fails, employees will not only lose their union representation, but they will be unable to organize again for two years.

“The consequence of a loss is two-fold,” said Board Chairman Mike Cormack.

The teachers union is fighting the new law in court.   

But Wawro believes that school employees will reauthorize their union representation.

“I’m very optimistic,” Wawro said.   “I’m just sad they have to spend time doing this.”