Anti-union bill passes Iowa legislature

A bill that will reduce wages for public sector workers and limit the rights of unions has passed the Iowa legislature.

Under the legislation, most public-sector union contract negotiations will be limited only to base wages. Unions will be banned from negotiating with their employers over issues such as health insurance, evaluation procedures, staff reduction and leaves of absence for political purposes. However, public safety workers such as police and firefighters will have a broader list of issues to be considered in contract talks. All unions will be barred from having union dues deducted from public employees’ paychecks and unions would need to be recertified prior to every contract negotiation.

The legislation also changes the arbitration process when contract talks reach an impasse. Currently, the union and management would make their best offers and an independent arbitrator would be required to choose the most reasonable of the two. The legislation requires an arbitrator to consider the employer’s ability to finance any wage increase. It also puts a cap on how much an arbitrator can raise wages. The wage increase could not exceed whichever is lower: 3 percent, or a percent equal to the cost of living increase outlined in the consumer price index.

Jason Schulz, who represents Harrison County, was floor manager of the bill in the Iowa Senate.

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