Iowa Push-Back at Union Power Grab

Professional educators and leading opinion makers are calling for Iowa’s Governor Chet Culver to veto union power grab legislation that was rammed through the House and Senate by the Democrat leadership.

The Sioux City Journal writes:

For once, Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, Senate Minority Leader Ron Wieck, R-Sioux City, and House Minority Leader Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, can all agree on something:

An attempt to fast-track a bill that would expand labor unions’ collective bargaining abilities is short-sighted.

We concur.

More time is needed to better understand and debate significant change to a law that has served Iowa well for more than 30 years.

Unfortunately, Democrats in the state Senate pushed the bill through late Monday afternoon by a 27-23 vote. No Republicans voted for the bill; three Democrats also voted no.

Democrats who voted yes maintain the bill, which would expand the range of issues public employee unions can bring up in contract talks, is merely a modest tweak of the 1974 law that established collective bargaining for public employees.

That claim is simply outrageous.

The current law limits contract negotiations primarily to items dealing with salary or benefits. The new bill would expand the list of negotiable items to include just about anything related to working conditions. That means, for instance, teachers could negotiate things like class sizes as part of their contracts.

The negative impact this change could have on our public work force is so significant it has created some unlikely alliances. School districts and city governments who have traditionally worked primarily with Democrats are teaming up with Republicans to oppose this legislation.

Even Culver, who hasn’t exactly seen eye-to-eye with Republican leaders like Rants and Wieck lately, seems to understand the importance of a full debate on what is anything but a modest proposal.

In a statement released Monday, Culver called on the Senate “to apply a little common sense …” He went on to maintain it is “crystal clear” that more time is needed so that the legislature and the public can “have a chance to better understand this proposed legislation and be more involved in the process.”

Yet, Senate Democrats demonstrated no interest in openly discussing the merits of this bill and stubbornly pushed ahead, spurred on by big labor.

Of course, there is one way to slow down this rush to judgment. When it hits his desk, Gov. Culver should heed his own words and veto the bill.

The Journal is not alone.

The Professional Educators of Iowa is also calling for a veto:

The fate of HF 2645, a bill that would vastly expand the scope of collective bargaining in Iowa, may soon lie in the hands of Governor Chet Culver after the Senate passed the bill 27-23. The bill has raised quite a bit of ire not just with the Republican minority in the Assembly, but also with public officials from around the state.

The bill, in part, allows for the possibility that property taxes will be raised to meet union demands. In a memo, Governor Culver called upon the Senate to hold a public hearing on the bill to give Iowans a chance to better understand the stakes. The senate leadership refused, saying the governor would understand once he had the chance to review the discussion from the senate floor.

“Governor Culver himself was the one who called for public debates on this bill, which the leadership in the Assembly blatantly ignored,” said Jim Hawkins, executive director of Professional Educators of Iowa. “We now need the governor to be true to his word and not allow the voices of the citizens of Iowa to be silenced in favor of Big Labor.”

The governor expressed concern over the way the bill was being shuttled through the Assembly. The bill, which is seen by many as repayment by Democrats to the unions which contributed to their campaigns, was introduced in the House just six legislative days before it passed the Senate.

“This is the time when we most need the governor to govern the state of Iowa,” said Hawkins. “He cannot sign this bill into law; otherwise, he is simply paying his fair share of dues back to the Big Labor forces that got him elected.”

According to the Iowa constitution, after the Assembly officially hands the bill off, the governor has three days to either sign or veto the bill. After three days, the bill becomes law by default. Senate Democrats have expressed confidence that Governor Culver will not veto the bill, as he is planning on running in the future on the Democratic ticket. In a press conference on Tuesday, the governor reiterated his desire for public input on the bill and indicated the lack thereof could influence his decision whether to sign or veto.