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Collective Bargaining Reform Happening

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By: MacKenzie Dreeszen


Long-awaited reforms to collective bargaining will likely become a reality in the state of Iowa. Last Wednesday, subcommittee hearings were held for HSB 84 and its Senate companion bill, SF 213. After over an hour for the House subcommittee hearing and two hours for the Senate hearing, both bills were referred to the Labor committees. HSB 84 passed the Labor committee, also on Wednesday.
A long list of lobbying organizations were registered against the bill: Plumbers and Steel Fitters, SMART Sheet Metal, Laborers International Union of North America, ACLU, Iowa Professional Firefighters, Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council, Iowa Annual Conference of the Methodist Church, United Professionals, Teamsters, Iowa Peace Officers Association, State Police Officers Council, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, Central Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council, AFSCME Iowa Council, Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund, Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, Iowa State Education Association, and International Union of Operating Engineers. Supporters of the bill include Governor Branstad’s office, Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Associated Builders and Contractors of Iowa, Americans For Prosperity, and Iowans For Tax Relief.
The House subcommittee for HSB 84 was chaired by Representative Dave Deyoe (R, Nevada), with Representative Steve Holt (R, Denison) and Representative Bruce Hunter (D, Des Moines). During the hearing, Chris Ingstad with Iowans for Tax Relief explained why they support this legislation.
“Local governments and schools should have more flexibility to choose what works for them. Iowa currently has the largest pay gap in the nation, with public employees being paid 149.76% of what the average worker in the private sector earned, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
Pay gaps are the average difference between what public and private sector employees earn. Even in years like FY 2010 when there was no increase in public employee incomes, these employees can still receive raises based on merit and performance. That year, public employees still made an average of 4.3% more than the previous year.
If negotiations cannot be reached, arbitrators “shall” take into consideration the state’s ability to raise taxes to fund public employees. Furthermore, state government unions often end up making deals with their friends, with no representation from Iowa taxpayers. This has created a system of cronyism.
At the end of the House subcommittee hearing, the bill was referred to the Labor committee. Representative Hunter was the only opponent.
The Senate subcommittee for SF 213 was chaired by Senator Jason Schultz (R, Schleswig), with Senator Brad Zaun (R, Urbandale) and Senator Nate Boulton (D, Des Moines).
“The intent of this bill is to restore local control,” said Senator Schultz in his opening statement.
After hearing from multiple union representatives, Senator Schultz referred the bill to the Senate Labor committee. Senator Boulton was the only one opposed.
A few hours later, the House Labor committee met. HSB 84 passed with a vote of 11-6. It is expected to pass the Senate Labor committee on Thursday and will receive a special public hearing in the Supreme Court chamber at 6:00 PM on February 13th.