Unions Under Attack in the Hawkeye State
On February 16, the House and Senate in Iowa passed a law aimed to bust public sector unions. Except for firefighters, transit workers, and police, all public workers are forbidden by the State to negotiate benefits, health care, vacations, and retirement; nearly all workplace issues outside of wages. The unions are also forbidden to negotiate grievance procedures. This legal shredding of union rights will directly affect 185,000 public workers.
Any attempt to negotiate wages will be extremely limited under the new law. Any disagreement on wages will result in binding arbitration. The arbitrator is not allowed to implement a pay increase of more than three percent or the percentage increase in the consumer price index, whichever is less.
To add insult to injury, Iowa was already a “Right to Work” state before this new reactionary law was rushed through. However, unions could still arrange voluntary deduction of dues from a public employee’s paychecks.
Now, unions are forced to win a recertification vote one year before each contract expires. The majority of employees in the entire union, not just those voting, must vote to keep the union. Moreover, the union must pay the state in advance for the costs of the election process.
This new, union-busting law is worse than what Scott Walker and the capitalists in Wisconsin forced through in 2011.
Emboldened by winning vicious anti-union legislation on the State level, along with the election of Trump; anti-union forces are going all out. A bill for a nationwide “Right to Work” law was recently introduced in Congress.
The mass resistance to Trump must include defending union rights, extending worker solidarity to non-union workers. Labor leaders and pro-union activists need to organize strike actions and occupations to defeat unjust laws.