Iowa lawmakers pass bill to curb public sector unions

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By Timothy Mclaughlin

<span class="articleLocation”>Republican lawmakers in Iowa approved
legislation on Thursday to limit the powers of public sector
unions to negotiate for state and local employees, restrictions
similar to those previously enacted in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Both the House of Representatives and the state Senate voted
in favor of the measure, which was opposed by Democrats and
unions who have said that it will gut collective bargaining
rights.

Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad supports the
legislation, which paves the way for Iowa to join Wisconsin and
Michigan in imposing restrictions on public sector unions.
Branstad said it was needed to save money for the state.

“These reforms are intended to rebalance the collective
bargaining system which has not been updated in more than 40
years,” Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer said in a
statement Thursday.

“These are common sense reforms that preserve our system of
collective bargaining and ensure Iowa’s taxpayers have a seat at
the table.”

The measure lifts mandates that require state and local
governments to negotiate with public sector unions on how much
employees receive in health benefits. Instead, mandated
negotiations would center on wages.

Public safety employees, including police and firefighters,
would be exempted from the changes.

The legislation also would make it easier to dismiss certain
state and local employees, including teachers, who are deemed by
their supervisors to be poor performers.

Groups including the American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees have said the measure, supported by the
conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity,
would dismantle collective bargaining rights.

The House voted 53-47 in favor of the legislation, the
Senate 29-21.



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