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Union-Busting Bills Wait in the Wings at Legislature

January 27, 2024

A number of union-busting policy proposals are being openly discussed among lobbyists and lawmakers eager to clip the influence of Idaho Education Association members after the union’s legislative wins in recent years.  

IEA President Layne McInelly

IEA President Layne McInelly told IEA members participating in IEA’s annual Lobby Day this week, that the attacks are reminiscent of attacks on public education brought forward by then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna nearly a dozen years ago.  

Known as the “Luna Laws,” these so-called “education reforms” were approved by the Idaho Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, only to be overwhelmingly overturned by Idaho voters during a 2012 referendum. IEA members were central to the campaign to overturn the laws and the campaign was McInelly’s first foray into union organizing as a young educator.  

“We see now similar threats to public education in efforts to weaken teachers’ unions, limit bargaining power and to make it harder for educators to organize,” McInelly told IEA members gathered for IEA’s Lobby Day Dinner and Training Sunday night

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.  


IEA Executive Director Paul Stark

“The enemies of public education are distraught over the successes of IEA members in recent years,” McInelly said. “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.” 

While none of the legislation has been introduced yet, IEA’s lobby team, IEA allies in the Idaho Legislature and public education advocates know of or have seen draft legislation that resembles measures used in states across the nation to undermine teachers’ unions.  

“Sensible policymakers see this effort for what it is: a coordinated attack on dedicated educators by out-of-state special interests backed by dark money eager to dismantle public education for profit,” said Paul Stark, IEA’s executive director. “There’s a clear distinction between those fighting to make our public school better and those determined to tear them down.” 

Among the expected measures are attacks on IEA members ability to: 

  • Matt Compton

    Use voluntary payroll deduction to pay member dues 

  • Collaborate and negotiate with school districts in good faith  
  • Select and pay the salaries of association leaders using member dues 

“These measures attempt to undermine the rights and power that IEA members have fought for over generations and are intended to cripple their ability to perform the most basic functions of a teachers union,” said Matt Compton, IEA associate executive director. “But just as IEA members ultimately defeated the Luna Laws, they will continue to fight for their students, public schools and their profession.”  


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