Iowa’s G.O.P. Statehouse Shows the Locals Who’s Boss

Cleck here to read NY Time Editorial on Iowa Politics

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Iowa Federation of Labor Files complaint against Koch Brothers organization.

ifl logo colorThe Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, (IFL) has filed a formal ethics complaint against Americans for Prosperity (AFP) regarding the apparent illegal lobbying action of Drew Klein, State Director or Iowa Representative of the Americans For Prosperity.

The legislative session began in early January, and it was not until February 21, 2017 that Klein officially registered as a lobbyist.

The charges officially filed are: Klein is employed as a lobbyist for AFP and has been active in lobbying as defined by Iowa Code section 68B.13 a (1) and (2) for the passage of HF 291 and SF 213 during the 87th General Assembly. “Mr. Klein has been lobbying as defined by Iowa Code and has failed to lobby as required by code and rule.” Said Ken Sagar. “This has occurred basically since session in January of 2017 and has continued throughout these contentious fights over public policy in Iowa”

The recent publicized photograph of Klein and Governor Branstad, at the signing of the two bills, gutting collective bargaining, and makes it very clear to us that AFP was lobbying and using “dark money” to fund for passage of these bills.

The Iowa Republicans worked on this anti-worker bill, in secret, for a long time. They claim they asked for and got, meetings for input from unions, which is not true. The Republicans are taking a page out of  the “alternative facts” process of President Trump White House.

It is very apparent to the Iowa Federation of Labor, that AFP used their dark money to fund, support and lobby for this, and possibly, other bills, that hurts Iowa Workers. Clearly, AFP violated the Iowa Code in their attack on Teachers and Public Sector Workers.  We call on legislative leaders to require AFP to follow the same rules as Iowans do.

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The Special Interest Fix Was In For Iowa Workers – Iowa Starting Line

koch bros specialinterestsGuest post from House Leader Mark Smith

The last two weeks have been the most contentious in my 17 years in the Legislature.

In just 10 days, Republican lawmakers and Governor Branstad unraveled Iowa’s successful, bipartisan collective bargaining law. After watching the events unfold the last week and a half, what we’ve learned is that the fix was in long before Iowans ever saw the bill.

For several months, Republicans, Branstad and Reynolds have hinted at “tweaks” to our collective bargaining law. That law simply requires Iowans and their public employer (school, city, county, etc.) to sit down and work together to discuss issues and reach mutually agreeable solutions in the workplace.

Written in secret behind closed doors, Republicans had months to get the bill drafted with support from dark money specials interest groups, including the Koch Brothers, ALEC, and Americans for Prosperity (AFP). Before the bill was released to the public, another special interest group funded by out-of-state corporations even started running television commercials to support the secret bill. That’s because the special interest fix was in.

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Will Iowa GOP follow union-busting with voter-busting?

voting rightsThe Iowa secretary of state’s office is making a gesture toward allowing more homeless people to register and vote, even as controversy continues to brew over a proposal to require voter identification at the polls.

I say “gesture,” because it’s not yet clear how helpful the secretary of state’s proposed legislation will be to homeless Iowans who want to exercise their rights as citizens.  But I bring it up because this provision sparked another type of gesture in the Iowa House on Monday — a nod toward bipartisan cooperation.

It’s notable in light of the Republican majority’s wall of stone against Democrat-proposed changes to the anti-collective bargaining legislation that was signed into law last week.  But it’s too early to tell whether this is a sign of a more collaborative process for the controversial voter-identification bill to come.

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Why education savings accounts are bad for Iowa

education weaponIowa legislators are playing a dangerous game with the education of our children and the competitiveness of our state. They are determined to undermine Iowa’s communities, its businesses, our strong network of public schools and our future. How? By pushing a plan to use state taxpayer dollars to fund nonpublic schools, private instruction and homeschooling.

Advocates of nonpublic schools or homeschooling would like to give every child an education savings account, or ESA, roughly in the amount of $6,500 and in the form of a debit card; families would then “purchase” their own education. How and where? The details from proponents, led by the Iowa Alliance for School Choice, are fuzzy.

Here’s what we know in general about ESAs:

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Branstad’s final offer to AFSCME covers only base wages

support collective bargaingAn attorney for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union filed a lawsuit early this morning, challenging the state’s new collective bargaining law for public sector employees. Danny Homan, president of AFSCME Council 61, the union that represents 40,000 public workers in Iowa, spoke with reporters via conference call this morning.

“The governor signing this bill is not the end. This is only the beginning,” Homan said. “We intend to use every legal opportunity we have to challenge the constitutionality of this law.”

A guard at the state prison in Clarinda, an Iowa State University policeman, a DOT motor vehicle enforcement officer and a University of Northern Iowa employee have joined the lawsuit. Homan said the only thing those four employees may bargain over now are their base wages, while people who do similar work — like police officers — were exempted from the new law, so they can discuss 17 subjects as they negotiate their contracts.

“Why have we created a system in this state that treats public employees that are virtually doing the same work differently than other employees?” Homan asked.

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Lobbyist attending bargaining bill signing brings criticism

afp and branstadGov. Terry Branstad is being criticized by Democrats after a conservative lobbyist attended the signing of the controversial collective bargaining bill.

Democrats argued Monday that the presence of Drew Klein, state director of Americans for Prosperity and a strong supporter of House File 291, shows that backroom deals by Republican-aligned lobby groups are prevailing in state government decision-making at the expense of the public.

“This is another example of the governor refusing to be clear and transparent with Iowans,” said Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Cedar Rapids.

“This speaks volumes as to who is pulling the strings behind this law,” said Danny Homan, president of the AFSCME Council 61 public employees union.

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Forced reorganization of Des Moines Waterworks (HF 316) is bad for taxpayers, bad for Des Moines

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Statement by State Senator Matt McCoy of Des Moines “HF 316 is the Iowa Farm Bureau’s attempt to punish Des Moines Waterworks for protecting the water almost a million Iowans drink each day. Des Moines Waterworks is right to seek … Continue reading

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Labor History

Today’s Labor Quote: Richard Trumka
“Time after time we’re told corporations should have freedom from pesky job safety regulations, environmental protections and labor standards – giving working people the freedom to be crushed in collapsing mines, choke on filthy air and get paid too little to live on.” 

Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, was the president of the United Mine Workers during the successful strike against Pittston. September 1989 Pittston rally photo by Gregg Matthews

February 22
Representatives of the Knights of Labor and the United Mine Workers meet in St. Louis with 20 other organizations to plan the founding convention of the People’s Party. Objectives: end political corruption, spread the wealth, and combat the oppression of the rights of workers and farmers – 1892

Albert Shanker dies at age 68. He served as president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers from 1964 to 1984 and of the American Federation of Teachers from 1974 to 1997 – 1997

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AFSCME Lawsuit on Collective Bargaining Law

The attached lawsuits were filed with the Polk County District Court at 8:00 AM on Monday, February 20, 2017. They challenge the constitutionality of HF 291, the bill gutting collective bargaining for public employees in Iowa. HF 291 was signed by Governor Branstad with the full support of soon-to-be Governor Reynolds on Friday, February 17, 2017, less than 24 hours after it passed the House and Senate.


Additional Resources
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Labor History

 

February 20
Responding to a 15 percent wage cut, women textile workers in Lowell, Mass., organize a “turn-out”—a strike—in protest. The action failed. Two years later they formed the Factory Girl’s Association in response to a rent hike in company boarding houses and the increase was rescinded. One worker’s diary recounts a “stirring speech” of resistance by a co-worker, 11-year-old Harriet Hanson Robinson – 1834

Rally for unemployed becomes major confrontation in Philadelphia, 18 arrested for demanding jobs – 1908

Thousands of women march to New York’s City Hall demanding relief from exorbitant wartime food prices. Inflation had wiped out any wage gains made by workers, leading to a high level of working class protest during World War I – 1917
(If your last serious read of American history was in high school—or even in a standard college course—you’ll want to read this amazing account of America as seen through the eyes of its working people, women and minorities. Howard Zinn (1922-2010) was a widely respected historian, author, playwright, and social activist. In A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present, he turns history on its head with his carefully researched and dramatic recounting of America and its people—not just its bankers, industrialists, generals and politicians.)

United Mine Workers settle 10-month Pittston strike in Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia – 1990

February 21
A state law was enacted in California providing the 8-hour day for most workers, but it was not effectively enforced – 1868

Transportation-Communication Employees Union merges with Brotherhood of Railway, Airline & Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express & Station Employees – 1969

United Farm Workers of America granted a charter by the AFL-CIO – 1972

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Here’s what’s in the bill (after amended), and now the law:

In an unprecedented timeline, both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate voted to strip the rights of over 180,000 Iowa workers yesterday. House File 291 dismantles collective bargaining in Iowa as we know it. 53 State Representative and 29 State Senators, all Republicans, chose to put Americans for Prosperity and ALEC’s template Collective Bargaining bill into the Iowa Code. These legislators ignored the people of Iowa, they turned their backs on their districts, and they voted to gut workers’ rights for out of state donors. Chapter 20 has worked for over 40 years, and it was uprooted in a matter of days. Less than 24 hours after the bill made it through the House and Senate, Governor Branstad signed the bill with the full support of soon-to-be Governor Reynolds.

That being said, laws cannot take away our voice, our dignity, or our Union.

Here’s what’s in the bill (after amended), and now the law:

  • The only mandatory topic of bargaining is base wages (with caps if negotiations go to arbitration: 3% or Midwest CPI, whichever is less).
  • Illegal topics of bargaining are now the following:
    • Insurance – health, dental, life, and disability
    • Supplemental Pay
    • Union dues & voluntary PAC deductions from your paycheck
    • Evaluation procedure
    • Outsourcing/Privatization
    • Union Leave for Political Activities
    • Transfer & Layoff procedures
  • Permissive subjects that can still be bargained if employers & employees agree are anything not listed above, such as seniority and any wage increase, employment benefit, or other employment advantage based on seniority, grievances, vacation, and overtime.
  • The bill calls for re-certifications elections before every contract expires. The election must majority of all in bargaining unit vote for certification (not showing up to vote is automatically a vote not to re-certify). The costs of these election who have to be paid upfront by the union.
  • Union dues deduction through payroll is now illegal
  • Public safety units are excluded from scope of bargaining changes
    • Public safety units are considered 30% or more public safety officers (police & fire only)
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Results of 1.25% AFSCME Vote

As you’ve probably heard, a request came to us from the State of Iowa for State contract-covered employees to forgo the 1.25% wage increase they received, as per their contract, at the beginning of this year. This request came with no promise of fewer layoffs or anything as a “trade off” for those affected. Both our Bargaining Committee and I were adamant that this decision needed to be made by the members it would effect. From February 6 – 11, votes were cast all across the state by over 50% of state contract members. Many new members also joined our Union to have their voice heard on this important decision.

With over 50% of members voting, 97.5% voted “no” and 2.5% voted “yes.” This means that the 1.25% wage increase will remain in place. The members have clearly spoken and their decision has been relayed to the State. Please keep in mind that the current budget crisis was in no way created by public employees, so attempting to balance the budget on our backs is irresponsible and unjust.

Thank you to all who took part in this important vote.

In Solidarity,

Danny Homan, President

AFSCME Council 61

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working familes 2017 pre invite

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Kansans deliver tax-cut cautions for Iowans

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“You have the opportunity to not be like Kansas.” As part of Moral Mondays at the Iowa State Capitol, Iowa advocates and lawmakers this week heard a cautionary tale from Annie McKay of Kansas Action for Children and Duane Goossen … Continue reading

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The health and well-being of millions of Americans is at risk. Please help us fight back.

Next week, February 18 – 26, Senators and Members of Congress leave Washington and return to their home districts to meet with their constituents. House Speaker Paul Ryan said yesterday that the legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care … Continue reading

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AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders on New Iowa Collective Bargaining Law

afscmeWASHINGTON — 

AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders issued the following statement on the signing of the new Iowa collective bargaining law:

“The law signed by the governor today is a slap in the face to the hardworking women and men who provide professional public services that strengthen Iowa communities every day.

“For more than 40 years, the collective bargaining system has worked fairly and efficiently, providing economic security to state employees and a good value for Iowa taxpayers. These unnecessary changes aren’t about fiscal responsibility. They’re an attack on public service workers who need the strongest possible voice on the job.

“We won’t give up this fight. AFSCME will continue to stand with Iowa working families and communities.”

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This weekends forums – Attend and let them know were are not giving up

The vote by the Iowa House and Senate has been taken, and the Governor has signed it. We can’t let up on these elected representative. They need to hear from you how you feel about their vote on this issue, … Continue reading

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APPLES to APPLES — A REFRESHER

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The Realities of Public-Sector vs. Private-Sector Compensation   Read online — http://www.iowapolicyproject.org/2017Research/170216-apples.html Download 2-page PDF — http://www.iowapolicyproject.org/2017docs/170216-apples-bgd.pdf   Public employees are a significant share of the Iowa workforce. Of the nearly 1.6 million nonfarm, or payroll, jobs in Iowa, about … Continue reading

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AFSCME Iowa leader promises lawsuit challenging collective bargaining changes

danny afscmeThe leader of one of Iowa’s largest labor unions immediately promised legal action after legislators approved sweeping changes to the state’s collective bargaining laws Thursday.

“We’re going to continue to fight this, because I believe an injury to one is an injury to all,” said Danny Homan, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61 in Des Moines. “And if getting rid of this bill helps every other labor union in the state then I’m all for that. We will continue to fight.”

Homan spoke to reporters from the Capitol on Thursday as a week of protests and three days of contentious floor debate came to a conclusion. Republicans in the House and Senate overrode staunch opposition from Democrats to pass House File 291 along a mostly party-line vote Thursday afternoon.

Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to sign the legislation, which would eliminate many provisions of a public employees’ bargaining law enacted in 1974. Under the changes, most public-sector union contract negotiations would be limited only to base wages, and unions would be banned from negotiating with their employers over issues such as health insurance, evaluation procedures and supplemental pay.

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