The Idaho House of Representatives has voted 44-25 to allow school boards to decide whether they should negotiate with labor unions. House Bill 174 is before the Senate. This bill needs to pass. The public labor unions in Idaho have too much power, and I’m extremely concerned that some of the public labor unions in Idaho have very extreme views that are not consistent with the viewpoints of Idahoans.

Doyle Beck

Doyle Beck

Consider the National Education Association, which has ties to the Idaho Education Association, which has ties to local labor unions that negotiate with school boards throughout Idaho. The NEA has extremely bizarre beliefs, and the organization is not shy about sharing them. It has a policy that says “educators must acknowledge the existence of White supremacy culture as a primary root cause of institutional racism, structural racism, and White privilege.” The organization has also stated its support of abortion, the lesbian-gay-trans agenda, and support for getting babies and toddlers out of their homes and into public education as soon as possible. I could go on, but I’d ask you to research the group’s positions yourself, as there are too many to list here.

Sadly, the connection between local labor unions, the IEA and the NEA means that dues paid by Idaho teachers make their way to the national organization, which then uses the money to wage war on Idaho parents, teachers, students and elected school boards. Even if that were not the case, there’s a real problem with public collective bargaining, which is not the same as collective bargaining in the private sector. In the public sector — school boards, city councils and other government venues — it allows the labor union to occupy both sides of the negotiating table. The union, being a political creature, works to get its members or allies elected, thus allowing the union to occupy both sides of the negotiating tables. That makes it extraordinarily easy for the union to get its way, including the imposition of higher taxes and other policies that may not ordinarily win the support of local residents and taxpayers.

HB 174 doesn’t stop that from happening. But what it does do is allow a school board the option to say no to collective bargaining, especially in light of bad behavior. It merely changes one word in state law: from “shall” to “may” in the sentence commanding that school boards “shall negotiate” with the union. A school board might still want to negotiate, and that would remain the board’s choice. But if the school board decides not to do so, it won’t. This is especially important in districts where the union or its national counterparts hold extreme views or in the instance of bad behavior, as was exhibited last year in Meridian, where the labor union staged a sickout, causing harm to parents and students in Idaho’s largest school district. It’s also helpful because, under Idaho law, once a school board makes a deal with a labor union, individual teachers are not allowed to negotiate with school boards on their own.

It’s a shame that Idaho lawmakers have given labor unions so much power. In some states, public collective bargaining is not legal for the reasons I mentioned above. Sadly, we have it here in Idaho, giving the labor unions a lot of influence that it should not have over our schools. By changing one word, Idaho lawmakers can give power back to elected school boards where it belongs, allowing those elected officials the ability to decide whether labor negotiations are in the best interests of students, teachers and taxpayers.

Doyle Beck is the Legislative District 30 chairman of the Idaho Republican Party.