WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Burlington Teachers File Complaint over District Survey

Feb 9, 2017

Burlington's teachers do not believe they should be asked for ideas to trim the budget for next year while also negotiating an employment contract for that same time period.

The Burlington Education Association filed a prohibited practice complaint against the school district on Jan. 30. In it, the organization referenced an email sent by HR Director Jeremy Tabor on Jan. 16.

Tabor sent a survey to all staff members in which he solicited “ideas and suggestions” for cutting expenses. The recipients included members of the collective bargaining unit.

The questions included

  1. If the district does not work towards offering a lower cost health care plan, we could be subject to paying a “Cadillac tax” under the Affordable Health Care Plan. Should the district offer a lower cost option to avoid paying this tax?
  2. Would you be interested in enrolling in the District’s health insurance plan if the cost were lower?
  3. Would you consider taking a pay freeze if it meant saving jobs and meeting the budget?
  4. Would you consider taking a lower than normal pay increase if it meant saving jobs and meeting the budget?

The BEA wrote in its filing with PERB that the first two questions relate directly to insurance and the second two specially mention wages.

“Seeking input directly from employees represented by a collective bargaining representative under Chapter 20 of the Iowa Code constitutes individual bargaining, an end-running of the collective bargaining representative, and a refusal to negotiate in good faith, all of which constitute prohibited practices in violation of” sections of Iowa’s collective bargaining laws.

The BEA wants PERB to schedule a hearing, allow evidence to be presented, order any answers provided by bargaining unit employees to the questions at issue be deleted from any records of the district, and any relief the board deems proper.