Home > Politics, Trends > Boise Idaho Moves to Strip Workers Rights

Boise Idaho Moves to Strip Workers Rights

March 10, 2011

Folks this is a movement against the everyday American workers and our democracy. More proof of radical Republicans backed by the wealthy elite to privatize everything.

NECN Reports tonight: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Hundreds of teachers, students, parents and union activists circled the Capitol on Wednesday, forming a human chain to protest education reforms now progressing to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s desk for signing into law.

They carried placards and wore bright red cloth strips over their mouths — to symbolize their feelings that teachers’ concerns about Luna’s package aren’t being heard.

Earlier in the day, the Republican-dominated House passed a $38 million pay-for-performance plan for teachers that was fought by the Idaho Education Association union. This comes after Tuesday’s passage of a bill to eliminate teacher tenure and restrict teachers’ collective bargaining rights.

Another key piece of Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s reforms — to add online classes and technology to Idaho’s education while increasing class sizes and cutting 700 teacher jobs — remains in a Senate committee undergoing revisions. Those at Wednesday’s protest said they fear this third bill will send millions to private, for-profit online education companies, rather than supporting classroom teachers who live in Idaho.

“These bills are wrong,” said Erica Bangerter, a teacher at Morley Nelson Elementary School in Boise who carried an “Education(equals)Future” protest sign. “They don’t support students. They have nothing to do with students. They definitely have to do with money.”

After Wednesday’s vote, Luna was jubilant, sending out a statement to reporters praising GOP lawmakers for passing what he says will become the most comprehensive pay-for-performance plan in the nation.

“This legislation is all about recognizing and rewarding our great teachers for the outstanding work they do every day,” Luna said.

As the battleground shifts to his third bill, however, not all GOP legislators who supported the first two measures say they’ll go along.

Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, mingled with the crowd of protesters who streamed down the Capitol’s southern steps and across Jefferson Street into Capitol Park. Bateman, a history teacher who spent 37 years in the classroom, said he’s already decided to vote against the third measure, should it emerge from committee and reach the House.

“I can’t go for the mandated technology,” Bateman said.

Still other legislators who spent their careers in education blame the Idaho Education Association for fanning the flames of discontent among the protesters outside the Capitol.

Rep. Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg and a longtime Ricks College and Brigham Young University-Idaho administrator, supported Luna’s first two bills and said he’d back the third one, too.

“I just think online classes and technology are the way of the future,” Shirley said. “I’ve looked to the merits of the bills. I’ve seen some real good stuff for improving education.”

Kelly Richmond, a history teacher at Boise’s North Junior High School who walked with the protesters, said she’s still hoping that the third bill can be stopped in the Senate Education Committee — long before Shirley gets a chance to weigh in.

The committee’s vote on that measure last month was 5-4 and Richmond is hoping that protests like Wednesday’s will change the mind of another of the panel’s members when they convene again. Five Republicans supported the bill last time, while two Republicans and two Democrats opposed it.

“We have to be strategic,” Richmond said, after removing the red cloth from her mouth to answer a reporter’s questions. “Where we do still have a voice is in the Senate Education Committee.”

Boise, IDAHO — A bill that would phase out tenure for new teachers and restrict collective bargaining on their salaries and benefits is on its way to the Idaho governor.

The GOP-backed measure cleared its final hurdle Tuesday in the state Legislature, where it passed the Idaho House on a 48-22 vote. Nine Republicans crossed party lines to oppose the bill.

The state’s teachers union, the Idaho Education Association, says it would gut teacher rights. It plans to protest Wednesday.

Supporters say the plan will give more power to Idaho’s locally elected school boards in labor relations issues. Opponents say it’s a slap in the face to teachers and a mean-spirited move to dismantle their union.

Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has backed the education reforms.

Courtesy AP

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