Democrats Challenge Layoff Rules

Sep 10, 2014

Democrats in the Iowa Senate failed to stop a new rule at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services that   they say will  chip away at Iowa’s merit system of employment.    The rule would let state agencies lay off some permanent employees ahead of temporary workers in the event of a reduction in force.   

The new rule survived a challenge before the legislature’s administrative rules review committee.   DAS Human Resource Officer Michell Minnehan said sometimes it makes sense to keep temporary workers on.

“ It provides that flexibility to make that decision based on what the set of variables are that come up at the time of that particular layoff,” Minnehan said. 

For example, officials say letting temporary workers finish a project might be more efficient than laying them off.    Democrats sharply disagree.

" It looks like you're trying to get all employees hired and fired at the whim of the election cycle,” said  Burlington Democrat Tom Courtney.    

DAS officials say they are trying to make practices consistent for merit employees and union workers.    Democrats raised similar concerns when DAS reclassified hundreds of state employees  from merit employees to so-called at-will workers who can be let go without cause.    Governor Branstad says DAS reclassified workers according to Iowa law.