Survey of NWPE Members on Labor and Teacher Representation Issues

The Northwest Professional Educators (NWPE) released its newest member survey covering their members views on questions specific to Labor and Teacher Representation issues. The full report is available below.

Professional Member Survey:
Labor and Teacher Representation Issues
Report to Idaho State Legislature
January 17, 2014

This report summarizes the views of Northwest Professional Educators members who responded to survey questions
specific to labor and teacher representation issues (collective bargaining). Some members left additional comments.
Those comments are provided for each question following the question summary.
The data below is based on the responses of teachers working in traditional public schools. Charter school teachers
are not represented in the data. Thirty seven percent work in small towns (2,501-10,000 total population), 26% in rural
areas, 34% in medium sized cities (50,001-500,000 total population), and 4% in large cities (500,000+ total population)
or the suburbs.

Conclusions drawn from our members’ responses include:

1. Teachers Want Verifiable Proof of Union Majority. 84% of respondents believe that any teacher
represented by a union for bargaining should be allowed to request verifiable proof that the union has the
majority required to bargain on their behalf. (Currently, union representatives are legally required to respond
only to school board requests for proof of majority. It requires a majority vote for a bargaining organization in
order to exercise the exclusive right to bargain for all teachers, union and nonunion, as provided for by Idaho

a. Ninety percent of teacher respondents do not know what percentage of the teachers in the bargaining
unit favor the current union’s representation.

2. Teachers Want Fair and Free Representation Elections. Eighty eight percent of respondents believe that
teacher representation elections should be conducted using fair and free election procedures including requiring
a secret ballot, allowing multiple association options, and election oversight by a mutually agreed upon
independent third party, e.g., an accounting firm.

a. Fifty five percent of respondents do not believe that representation election procedures used in their
school districts are confidential, fair and free.

b. Teachers are generally not aware that they can form alternative bargaining associations as an
alternative to the IEA affiliate, for example, a local-only, district level bargaining association that is not
affiliated with the state and national unions, or they have not organized one to challenge their current
union. Idaho law provides that any organization formed for bargaining that can gain a majority vote of all
the teachers in the bargaining union receives privilege of being the exclusive bargaining representative
for all teachers.

3. Representation Election Procedures are Not Always Just. Numerous comments indicate that:

a. Nonunion teachers who are represented by the union in negotiations are often not allowed to vote on
their bargaining representative despite being eligible to vote. (Note: If a union gains a majority, Idaho
state law gives it the exclusive bargaining privilege to represent all teachers in the bargaining unit, both
union and nonunion. All teachers have the right to vote on their bargaining representative whether they
join it or not. Nonunion members of the bargaining unit are bound by the collective bargaining
agreement although they are not allowed to vote on it.)

b. Representation election procedures described by respondents often violate the principles of confidential,
fair and free elections. Comments reveal, as mentioned above, that in many cases, the participation of
all eligible teacher voters is obstructed as revealed by the number of teachers who, despite being
eligible to vote, are ignorant of how the elections are conducted. Some elections procedures are
coercive in nature, for example, requiring teachers to vote in front of their colleagues rather than by a
secret ballot. Some election procedures lack fairness as the union controls all the procedures with no
independent oversight for accountability.

4. Length of Teacher Contracts. Two thirds of respondents agree or tend to agree that teacher contracts should
be limited to one year.

5. Replacing “steps and lanes” pay system with tiered, career ladder system of teacher compensation
tied to licensure, performance, accountability and incentives. Forty seven percent agree with this
proposal. Fifty three percent of respondents tended to disagree or disagreed with this proposal.

Please find more NWPE survey details on the following document: NWPE Member Survey on Labor & Teacher Representation Report


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