High stakes for Iowa’s public workers as union recertification votes begin

Elections beginning this week and many more happening in October threaten to upend public sector unions in Iowa, potentially decimating organized labor’s political power and workplace influence in the state for years to come.

Starting Tuesday, individual bargaining units around the state — representing public school teachers, city snowplow drivers and county sheriff’s deputies, among many others — will vote on whether to continue or dissolve their union affiliations, many of which have been in place for decades.

Union leaders decry the votes as a bald-faced attempt by Republican lawmakers to quash union power in the state — one that will harm public sector workers and, ultimately, all Iowans who depend on services as basic as road maintenance and police protection.

“It’s a wholesale attack on the trade union movement by folks who’ve never liked us,” Iowa Federation of Labor President Ken Sagar said. “The system was set up in such a way to almost guarantee that they’ll be successful in damaging or destroying people’s opportunity to join together and collectively bargain.”

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