© 2020 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
State Government News

Public Employees Overwhelmingly Approve Their Unions; Some Votes Fall Short

John Pemble/IPR
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees President Danny Homan

By a wide margin, public workers across Iowa have endorsed their union representation in recertification voting that ended this week, mandated by Iowa’s new collective bargaining law.   

But some public employees will not retain their unions, and their contracts will be dissolved. 

Under Iowa’s old collective bargaining law, groups of public workers routinely kept their union representation, but the new law requires periodic voting for all.    Some 468 bargaining units faced recertification votes this month.  

This process was unnecessarily challenging. -AFSCME Pres. Danny Homan

The units represent public workers ranging from teachers and road workers, to corrections officers and court employees.

Ninbety-three percent of the bargaining units endorsed their union representation.

Votes fell short for 32 groups of employees.     

That includes teachers in North Linn, Sigourney, and Glidden school districts, and nurses at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines.   

In addition, contracts will be dissolved for sheriff’s employees in Cherokee and Crawford Counties, court employees and road workers in Dallas County, and utility workers in Pella, among others.

Under the new law, those workers will be barred from being represented by their current or any other bargaining representative for two years. 

A majority of both union and non-union members in the bargaining units was required for recertification.

We are proud of our members and the other public employees. -ISEA President Tammy Wawro

“This sweeping victory confirms …that unionized employees, both members and non-members, value their voice in the workplace,” said Danny Homan, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in a statement.    

The vote count is unofficial, pending appeals.   Homan plans to appeal the vote by Carroll County Conservation Board employees.   One ballot was voided in that election, and that was enough to tip the balance against recertification.

“This process was unnecessarily challenging and unfair at every turn,” Homan said.

Local bargaining units representing teachers approved recertification in 216 out of 220 elections.

“It appears that recertification elections were just another obstacle the legislature placed in front of Iowa’s public employee unions in an effort to weaken them,” said Iowa State Education Association President Tammy Wawro in a statement.   "Today, local associations overwhelmingly chose the union to help represent their best interests and the interests of their students, schools and the communities in which they live.”

State employees will face their recertification votes next year.