They don’t understand collective bargaining

ifl logo colorIt is very evident that officers of the Americans for Prosperity don’t understand what collective bargaining is. (Op/Ed November 18 Collective bargaining reform: A good bargain for Iowa.)


The use of loaded language like, “Union leaders ‘demand’ raises,” does little to explain the nature of collective bargaining but shows the intent of the piece was to drive wedges among Iowans.  Both parties make “demands” or as they are more commonly referred to “proposals.” Both parties sit down and negotiate. If both parties fail to agree, then it goes to an impartial third party – an arbitrator to impose an agreement


Iowa Public Sector bargaining law was passed by a Republican House and Senate and signed by a Republican Governor, with the explicit intent to “…promote harmonious and cooperative relationships between government and its employees to organize and bargain collectively; to protect the citizens of this state by assuring effective and orderly operations of government in providing for their health, safety and welfare; to prohibit and prevent all strikes by public employees…”  Furthermore, these Republicans realized that this was a fair and reasonable way to deal with the needs of the public workforce.


The Op/Ed went on to argue that the taxpayers have no way to reject the increased spending since their legislators do not vote on the bargained deals.  The executive branch, school boards, or other public management groups they control are responsible for the deals they make, and voters do have recourse if they feel that that these representatives are unwilling or unable to make responsible deals with public employees.  The opinion piece authored by the Koch Brothers’ group assumes that the Governor is unwilling to act in the state and the pubic workforce’s best interests.


The state regularly gives corporations incentives to bring business here. The Register reported in September that the return on investment of these incentives is far below what is promised. Do the taxpayers get to vote on these expenditures?  Did they vote to privatize Medicaid?  Did they vote close half of the mental health facilities or to close the juvenile home in Toledo?


It’s clear that the current Iowa law dealing with collective bargaining for state employees has been fair for all parties involved and has been for over 35 years now.  As a Republican legislature and Governor believed before, the process was, and is in the best interest of all Iowans.


Ken Sagar
Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO

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