Iowa Public Workers: You are Now Free to Leave
By Olivia Grady
On February 17, 2016, Republican Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed into law a sweeping bill that will change state labor law for government employees.
The law won’t allow collective bargaining over health insurance, extra pay and other issues. It also changes firing procedures and the rules for union certification elections. You can read more about the bill and its similarities to Wisconsin’s Act 10 in my February 7th post, “Worker Freedom in the Hawkeye State.”
On February 16th, the Iowa legislature passed the bill.
Republicans were able to by-pass filibuster challenges from Democrats in both chambers by using a rare procedural move to force a vote.
The Senate voted 29 to 21 for Senate File 213, and the House voted 53 to 47 for House File 291.
Union leaders were very upset over this news. The National Education Association (NEA), for example, published an article, “Iowa lawmakers side with the Kochs and ALEC, vote to silence educators, public workers” on February 15th on their online publication Education Votes denouncing the bill.
In addition, Tammy Wawro, president of the Iowa State Education Association, said:
“This isn’t union-busting. (This bill) goes further. It’s profession-busting. (Iowa legislators) have carved out the heart of what is important and vital to our profession and our ability to have a voice in the direction of our work environment.”
Hundreds of protesters attended weekend forums, and on February 13th, individuals protested in front of the state Capitol. Since then, however, there have been few people at the Capitol opposing the bill.
The President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees, Danny Homan, said that his union would sue and challenge the bill’s constitutionality.
Republicans, however, were thrilled. The floor manager, Representative Steven Holt expressed his support:
“This bill, I believe heart and soul, is a win for all Iowans and the delivery of a promise from Republicans that we would reform governments to make it more efficient for the people for Iowa.”
180,000 government workers will be affected by this bill.
The Center for Worker Freedom congratulates Iowa for its outstanding victory on behalf of workers’ rights.