Debate over union negotiations reaches Iowa


March 9th, 2011

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Pro-union demonstrators arrived at the Iowa capitol building Monday to protest HF525. (Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons)

Omaha, NE – Hundreds of protesters rallied at the Iowa capitol in Des Moines on Monday, to speak out against a bill which would limit the rights of public union workers to negotiate.

In Wisconsin, Republican Governor Scott Walker and House Republicans are still in the midst of a battle over a similar bill. Wisconsin’s bill sparked many similarly drafted bills in Ohio, Tennessee, and Indiana.

In Iowa, negotiations over wages, work conditions and vacations are still intact, but the bill would limit the rights of workers to negotiate over health care, terms surrounding lay-offs.

The President of the Iowa Federation of Labor, Ken Sagar, called it a “bad bill all around.” He said it would “eliminate incentives” for both the employees and employers to make concessions in negotiations. He said the bill is more politically motivated than helpful to Iowa. “It’s fundamentally politics as usual,” said Sagar, “What happens is during elections is one side wins, one side loses and the side that wins seems to want to go in and hurt the other side.”

Rep. Lance Horbach helped introduce the bill which would curb some union negotiations. (Photo courtesy Iowa Legislature)

Sagar blamed corporations for setting the agenda at the Capitol. But those in support of the bill say it’s necessary in order to tackle budget shortfalls. Representative Lance Horbach, who helped introduce the proposal, said the bill isn’t anti-union, but an attempt to fix Iowa’s economic problems. “We are not looking for a political headline, we are looking for a resolution,” said Horbach. “Everybody is making this as an anti-union bill, but we’re trying to find a mechanism that will allow us to manage this state to where we can provide the goods and services that are entrusted to us as legislators and managers of the people’s money and be able to take that mechanism and use it year after year after year and while we can provide stability to both sides.”

House Democrats have entered more than 100 amendments to the proposal in hopes of stalling its passage. The bill has come out of committee and is now eligible for debate. It is expected to pass a Republican-controlled House, but may find more opposition in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

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