Teachers and staff in the Roland-Story and Ballard school districts overwhelmingly voted to recertify their unions in the first vote after changes to the state’s collective bargaining law took effect in February.
Members of the Ballard Educational Association voted 121 to 3 in favor of maintaining their union out of 131 eligible voters, while Roland-Story Educational Association members re-certified 72 to 1 in favor out of 79 eligible voters.
The two Story County districts were part of 13 school districts and community colleges in the state voting whether to continue operating their unions over the past two weeks.
According to records from the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board, Ballard full- and part-time teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and nurses are included in the bargaining unit.
Roland-Story’s guidance counselors, librarians, curriculum leaders, school nurses and media production director are included in that district’s bargaining unit.
Iowa State Educational Association president Tammy Wawro said she met with union leaders at Ballard and Roland-Story during the election period. She said the leaders worked hard to make sure their members understood the process and cast their ballots on time.
“Both Ballard and (Roland) Story did a really good job of making sure everyone understood what was at stake,” she said.
It was the first round of votes that are required before public-sector unions can re-enter contract negotiations after as part of a new collective bargaining law passed by the Legislature earlier this year.
Union members statewide were overwhelmingly in favor of recertifying, with 1,101 voting to remain with 27 voting to dissolve.
The results are a precursor to the larger recertification elections next month, where members of more than 400 unions representing police and fire departments, public works employees, teachers and medical employees in the state will vote to keep or dissolve their local chapters.
Five groups of Story County employees, including sheriffs and conservationists, will vote to maintain their membership in the Public Professional and Maintenance Employees union in that election.
Seven city and county-wide unions in Boone will also have to re-certify in that election.
Wawro said while the latest results make a small sample size, they show public sector union support remains extremely high among its members. She also said voters in next month’s round of elections will have a longer period to vote and can do so online or over the phone instead of mailing ballots, which will make voting easier.
“This is a good canary in the coal mine to see how people are feeling, and if they have been awoken to what’s happened to our profession,” she said.