Originally published on 2/16/17.

Update: (Des Moines, IA) Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed the collective bargaining bill, HF 291, into law on Friday afternoon.

“I’m very pleased to sign this bill into law,” Branstad said.  “These necessary reforms to our antiquated 43 year old public employee collective bargaining law bring fairness for Iowa taxpayers and flexibility to public employees.  This bill also gives local governments, schools and state government greater freedom in managing their resources with the opportunity to reward good public employees.   I want to thank all of the legislators who worked diligently and thoroughly to pass these much needed reforms, including Speaker Linda Upmeyer, Majority Leader Chris Hagenow, Majority Leader Bill Dix, President Jack Whitver, Chairman Dave Deyoe, Representative Steve Holt and Chairman Jason Schultz.”

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds also applauded the reforms adding, “I’m excited about the long overdue reforms that have been put in place today.  My experience as county treasurer for 13 years gave me a firsthand look at how out of balance the system had become.  Finally, Iowa taxpayers have a seat at the table and local governments are empowered to make decisions in the best interests of their communities and schools. These changes will improve our educational system by giving local districts the ability to recruit and retain the best teachers in every classroom across the state.  This new, balanced system is something all Iowans can celebrate.”

Original post: Collective bargaining reform passed in the Iowa Legislature today. The Iowa House passed HF 291 53 along party lines 53 to 47. The Iowa Senate passed its companion version, SF 213, by a party line 29 to 21 vote. The state of Iowa has not updated the collective bargaining process since 1974. They send the bill to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who is expected to sign collective bargaining reform into law.

Both the House and the Senate saw extensive debate on the bills.

Collective bargaining for all government employees now excludes: dues checkoffs, payroll deductions for political action committees, or other political contributions or political activities.

Essentially the state of Iowa will no longer deduct union dues and fees from employee paychecks. Unions will be responsible to collect fees and donations themselves.

For bargaining units with less than 30% of their members being public safety employees will also now have insurance, leaves of absence for political activities, supplemental pay, transfer procedures, evaluation procedures, procedures for staff reduction, and subcontracting public services excluded from the collective bargaining procedure.

Essentially this leaves base pay to be the only thing discussed at the bargaining table.

The retirement system for public employees in the state, IPERS, will continue to be excluded from the collective bargaining process.

The process for union certifications and decertifications have changed that requires more support (30 percent rather than 10 percent) to be shown by employees of a bargaining unit before the Iowa Public Employee Relations Board will allow a union to be included in a certification vote. Also any one union competing for certification must win the vote of majority of the employees in the bargaining unit before they are certified to represent the employees in that bargaining unit. Also unions will be up for a retention vote at the end of their contract which could be between one to five years. In order to continue representing the bargaining unit they must win the vote of a majority of the employees in the bargaining unit.

The process for arbitration has also changed. Currently if there is an impasse an arbitrator could decide between the union and the management’s best offer. Now the arbitrator has to consider the ability of the employer to finance any wage increase. It also caps how much an arbitrator can raise employee wages. The wage increase can’t exceed whichever is lower: 3 percent, or a percent equal to the cost of living increase outlined in the consumer price index.

“This bill changes the way Iowa does business,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock). “For years we have been working for fiscal responsibility and pushing for more local control. This bill does that exactly. This is a local control bill. It empowers local school boards. It empowers local officials. It will increase efficiency and innovation at every level of government, giving the taxpayers better services at a lower cost.”

“These much needed reforms will restore balance to Iowa’s outdated collective bargaining laws.  As a result of these changes, local elected officials will have better flexibility to manage their budgets, resulting in efficient services for people in their communities.  School officials will have the ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers, ensuring our kids get a world class education.  Government unions will be held accountable to their members through regular certification elections.  Finally, it requires unions to collect their own dues, not the government and taxpayers,” House Speaker Linda Upmeyer (R-Clear Lake) said describing the bill.

“These reforms are intended to rebalance the collective bargaining system which has not been updated in more than 40 years.  These are common sense reforms that preserve our system of collective bargaining and ensure Iowa’s taxpayers have a seat at the table,” she added.

Senate President Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny) said SF 213 is a way to ensure we are getting the best teachers in the classroom. “This bill is providing school districts with the tools to reward good teachers, allowing school districts to create their own merit pay systems, and allowing school boards and districts to make their own employment decisions based on merit,” Whitver said. “This way, we can keep the best teacher in the state and attract new teachers to our home state.”

State Senator Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig), floor managed the bill over the last three days of debate. “My colleagues and I listened to Iowans and made improvements to the legislation as a result of the legislative process,” Schultz said. “This bill will benefit 3.1 million Iowans who want high performing public schools, who believe it’s time for reform, and want to put the elected officials – not the union bosses – in charge of state and local governments.”

“Legislators in Iowa took a bold step forward today by passing collective bargaining reform. This legislation will ensure that our state’s collective bargaining system protects taxpayers rather than the union bosses who reaped the rewards of our current system,” Drew Klein, Iowa State Director for Americans for Prosperity, said in a released statement.

“Hardworking taxpayers in Iowa deserve a system that is more accountable and removes control from unelected bureaucrats. We applaud the members of the state legislature who voted in favor of these important bills,” he added.

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