To the Editor:
Representative Pettengill recently published a summary of the changes involved in the chapter twenty collective bargaining agreement.  Though largely accurate, it is, in places, incomplete.  The bill now guarantees public employees one limited bargaining item – wages.  Though not mentioned in the summary, it also retains language that forbids public employee strikes in return for that one limited bargaining right.  Here  Pettengill’s summary was misleading.  As stated, other potential bargaining items are at the discretion of local school boards.
The above limitations in Chapter twenty combined with items from the agreement (elimination of payroll deduction of dues and required yearly union recertification) often reduce the effectiveness and potential longevity of unions.  Though, as stated, private sector unions were not affected, similar limitations could be in their futures.
Finally, I speak most for teachers.  Teachers, of course, need wages.  But that is not the change that worries them most.  Other states, Wisconsin, which have implemented similar measures, have seen difficulty in retaining teachers, finding new teachers, and motivating students into the teaching profession. Iowa will not attract and retain exceptional educators through this bill. Teachers are collaborators not competitors.  Moreover, as teachers feel employment is at risk, they become muzzled concerning what is best for children.  Lack of qualified teachers and the potential silencing of those closest to the student are what most dismay teachers concerning the changes in the law. We and our union want what’s best for kids.  It is painful to feel demonized by our legislators and communities.
Deborah A. Vaughan