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Senate Democrats Take Aim at Plan to Eliminate Automatic Deduction of Union Dues

Joyce Russell/IPR
Sen. Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo)

A Republican plan to discontinue payroll deductions of union dues for state workers is encountering fierce opposition from public employees and their advocates in the legislature.   

The measure is part of a sweeping overhaul of the collective bargaining law which covers 130,000 public employees.

This will be the death knell for unions

In the Senate Labor and Business Relations Committee Thursday, Sen. Bill Dotzler (D-Waterloo) argued the state allows payroll deductions for charitable contributions and other activities, but singles out union dues in the bill.

“I don’t know how you can read that any other way but we hate people that represent people in state government and this is a way of putting an end to it,” Dotzler said.

Dotzler grilled the bill’s sponsor Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig).

“Do you plan on eliminating the provision that would allow state employees to have deductions like United Way from their paychecks?”  Dotzler asked.

“This bill doesn’t deal with those so I’m really not interested in talking about those,”   Schultz replied.

Credit Joyce Russell/IPR

Schultz says the practice of deducting union dues was put in place when the collective bargaining bill  was passed in 1974. 

“In 1974 I don't know that it was quite as easy to fill out the form so you could have monthly withdrawals," Schultz said.  “Technology has taken care of some of what was in Iowa code."

Critics call the measure union-busting.

“This will be the death knell for unions,” said Sen. Tony Bisignano (D-Des Moines).

Bisignano estimates collection of dues could fall by as much as 80%.  

Republicans say the state should not use taxpayer dollars to help unions collect their dues.