Capitol Update: Week 5

Discussion and Clarification on Chapter 20

A lot has been said about the bill to restructure collective bargaining.  This bill doesn’t affect private sector workers.  The Federal Government has always held jurisdiction over private sector labor relations and reforms to Chapter 20 does not change this fact.  The bill doesn’t take away or modify Iowa’s public pensions nor does it take away health insurance.  In Iowa, public pensions have always been excluded from the scope of collective bargaining.  HSB 84 explicitly states the employer must offer health insurance.  Public safety employees are exempt from the changes made.

Employees have protections against discrimination, harassment, retaliation or any other unlawful practices.  It is already illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on based on protected characteristics such as basis of race, color, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, creed, sexual orientation, sexual identity or disability.  Iowa employers with four or more employees must comply with these laws.  This bill does nothing to undo those protections.

The scope of negotiations outlined in Chapter 20 only refers to the ability of a union to bargain those items with an employer. The changes in the bill have no effect on an individual employee’s rights to discuss or negotiate on their own accord with their employer about any topics they feel are imperative to their employment.

A pragmatic long-term change reflecting today’s economic realities is needed regarding Iowa’s collective bargaining law.

Constructive cooperation, not obstruction and fear-mongering, is needed regarding collective bargaining.  Collective bargaining advocates are arguing the law has worked well for 40 years and changes are not necessary.  Yet that did not stop those same advocates from serious attempts to significantly expand collective bargaining in 2007 and 2008.

The bottom line is that school boards, mayors, city councilors, county supervisors along with state government leaders will have more flexibility to do the jobs taxpayers elected them to do which is to manage state resources and quickly and effectively respond to their concerns.

News from District 96

This week’s focus revolved around Chapter 20.  However, we also found time to address other issues as well.  This week the Ag Committee welcomed Director Gipp of the DNR, Secretary Northey from IDALS, and Dr. John Lawrence from Iowa State.  They discussed ongoing water quality efforts in the state.  The information they provided will assist us in conversations going forward about Iowa’s rivers and streams.

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