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State Government News

What to Know about Iowa’s Collective Bargaining Bill

John Pemble /IPR file photo
Iowa's capitol will be the site of much debate over collective bargaining this week.

The Iowa legislature is moving quickly this week on a collective bargaining bill that looks very similar to the one passed in Wisconsin back in 2011. There's a hearing Monday at 6:00 p.m. at the capitol. IPR Morning Edition Host Clay Masters talks with IPR Statehouse Correspondent Joyce Russell.

Iowa's bill follows the Wisconsin model more than most. That's according to one legal expert. The bill will prevent unions from negotiating for health benefits and a whole list of other benefits and workplace issues.

"It goes to the heart of union organizing," Joyce Russell says. "Unions would have to collect their own dues, instead of doing that through payroll deduction."

The bill leaves in place parts of Chapter 20 to prevent workers from striking.

"That was part of the rationale for passing collective bargaining back in 1974," Russell says. "That workers were given collective bargaining rights in exchange for agreeing not to strike." This is reminding some people of a divisive teacher's strike in Keokuk back in 1970, before Chapter 20.

Critics say exempting public safety workers from the bill divides unions. This was also part of the Wisconsin law to exempt some workers from some provisions of the bill. The argument there is that police and firefighters are critical to public safety. Several workers, from snowplow operators down to social workers, argued that their jobs are critical to public safety.

Debate is expected to last throughout the week.  The collective bargaining bill is available for debate in the full House and Senate.

"We're expecting a long debate that could last days," Russell says.