The draft legislation, likely to be co-sponsored Sen. Ben Toews (R-Coeur d’Alene) and Rep. Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay), is very similar to anti-union legislation seen all across the nation in recent years. It is also part of a broader playbook of anti-union legislative initiatives expected to be unveiled this winter to weaken IEA member rights, mirroring tactics that have proven disruptive and, at times, devastating to educator unions in other states.
“The enemies of public education are distraught over the successes of IEA members in recent years,” said Layne McInelly, IEA president. “These union-busting bills are a direct response to IEA members’ fighting for better funding for public education, more resources for Idaho’s students and public schools, and better salaries and benefits for dedicated public school educators. Our members anticipated these attacks and are prepared to fight for their rights.”
IEA is in the late planning stages of a campaign to remove this threat altogether by converting all membership dues payments to electronic funds transfers from member bank accounts, as opposed to payroll deduction.
“We are working on an easy, convenient and private way for IEA members to stand with their union by updating and upgrading the way they pay their membership dues,” said Eliza Walton, an IEA organizer spearheading the coming campaign. “Members should be on the lookout for information about this effort later this spring and should wait to change their payment method away from payroll deduction until that time.”
The union-busting effort is being led by the national Freedom Foundation, an anti-union, anti-public education policy mill that has led similar efforts across the nation and that has close ties with the Idaho Freedom Foundation.
The draft legislation — still not formally introduced by its sponsors — targets IEA members by prohibiting school districts from automatically deducting funds from employee paychecks to pay union dues. It leaves the rights of other public service professions, like firefighters and police officers, to pay their union dues by payroll deduction intact.
“While this bill specifically targets dedicated educators, our union brothers and sisters in other labor unions in Idaho recognize the inherent threat to their own rights in this legislation,” said Chris Parri, IEA’s political director. “They are standing with IEA members in opposition to this bill and to protect the organizing rights of every union member in this great state.”
The effect of this draft legislation, if approved, would likely undermine the rights and power gained by IEA and local education associations over generations.
“After record investments in recent years with the goal of retaining great teachers, this legislation would be a huge step backwards, illustrating a profound lack of respect for educators and their rights, said Matt Compton, IEA’s associate executive director. “It would cripple the association’s ability to perform the most basic functions and reveal private and proprietary information about IEA activity. The enemies of public education, like the Idaho Freedom Foundation and its allies, could weaponize those details to attack our members and their union.”