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Iowa Lawmakers Meet with Union Workers

Posted: 5:52 PM, Feb 11, 2017
Updated: 2017-02-11 18:54:22-05

A new bill introduced to the Iowa legislature on Tuesday has union workers upset. 

It was a tense discussion Saturday at Wilson Middle School as Iowa lawmakers met with union workers about House Study Bill 84.

The proposed changes in the bill would affect collective bargaining rights of non public safety employees.

“These are major changes to Iowa’s collective bargaining laws, sweeping changes,” said Justin James, Council Bluffs Fire Department Chief.

Although police, fire, and other public safety workers would be exempt from the changes, James came out to show his support of union members.

Under the proposed bill, the only mandatory item up for negotiation between employees and their employers would be base wages.

Other items, such as hours and vacation times, would have to be mutually agreed upon by employees and employers before they could be negotiated.

“That puts us at a disadvantage because the employer can simply say we’re not willing to talk about it so therefore we aren’t going to,” said Pat Shipley with the Iowa State Education Association.

While there are concerns, Shipley and lawmakers were hopeful that there won’t be any ill will.

 “The employer and employee can agree upon and say hey, this is an issue, and come up with the best solution,” said State Senator Daniel Dawson (R) of Iowa.

“We’ve tried to foster good labor relations, and in most cases, I don’t think there’s any desire by public employers to damage the public employee,” said Shipley.

Some items would become excluded from negotiations altogether, such as evaluation procedures, seniority, and insurance.

 “They’re taking away our right to bargain, but they’re taking away our right to strike. So they’re taking away our voice altogether,” said Jolene Miller, an educator with Council Bluffs Public Schools.

Lawmakers assured union workers that they are listening to their concerns and will take them back to share with others in the legislature before voting.

The complete bill can be found here.