The House Education Committee has approved SB 1147a on a divided vote, to ban so-called “evergreen” clauses in teachers union master agreement contracts that carry on from one year to the next. Paul Stark, attorney for the Idaho Education Association, said the bill violates the Idaho and U.S. constitutions by banning multi-year contract clauses retroactively to Nov. 21, 2012, the date that the voters’ rejection of Proposition 1 took effect. “We’re seeing a cut-and-paste from the repealed laws,” Stark told the committee. “The Legislature constitutionally is forbidden from nullifying contracts.”
Two Idaho school districts, Twin Falls and Coeur d’Alene, had signed Memorandums of Understanding with their local teachers unions saying that if Proposition 1 and the “Students Come First” laws were voted down, they’d reinstate previous master agreements, including multi-year clauses.
Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, arguing for the bill, said, “This I believe puts our districts in position to review what they want and agree what they want quickly, but move ahead.” The bill, which includes a one-year “sunset” clause or expiration date, now moves to the full House; it’s already passed the Senate. It forbids any contract terms between districts and teacher unions from extending for more than two years, or for more than one year if they’re regarding salaries or benefits. Karen Echeverria, executive director of the Idaho School Boards Association, stressed that the bill applies to master agreements negotiated between teachers unions and school districts, not the individual employment contracts that each year are granted to individual teachers binding districts to employ them for the year.