The only way to use el enhancements inside an iterator is to use a datatable - and even that functionality is under debate. Better to use page parameters.
Yeah, I eventually stumbled upon the dataTable. Using it, I was able to pass the correct value to my backing bean. The only problem is I need to have a new column for every entry in my Collection instead of a new row.
Then I found <ui:repeat>. It passed the correct value to my backing bean as well _and_ I was able to align my buttons horizontally with it! Joy!
One question (or clarification) though, you mentioned "even that functionality is under debate." Can you elaborate?