Iowa Follows Wisconsin’s Lead on Unions

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Iowa Follows Wisconsin’s Lead on Unions



The fight over government worker unionization has come to Iowa.


Last week, the legislature passed a bill that would limit the power of government employee unions. Here is how VoteSpotter described the bill:


To limit the scope of collective bargaining for union of government workers, require ongoing elections of employees to keep a union in place, and prohibit the government from collecting dues or political contributions for a union. Some parts of this act do not apply to public safety employees.


With Republicans controlling the legislature and the governorship, this bill faced little serious opposition on its way into law.


Republicans in the Hawkeye State were inspired by legislation from Wisconsin in 2011. That was when Governor Scott Walker and Republicans in that state’s legislature enacted a bill, known as Act 10, to limit collective bargaining for government workers over fierce pushback by union and activists. By contrast, the Iowa legislation did not feature nearly the heated theatrics and political wrangling as occurred in Wisconsin.


What will happen in the wake of this bill’s enactment in Iowa? It may face a court challenge, as Act 10 did. If courts uphold the law, then Iowa will likely see a decline in government union membership, given the experience of Wisconsin. One analysis concluded that Act 10 produced $5 billion in savings for Wisconsin taxpayers over five years, so something similar could occur in Iowa, too. In fact, it seems that the effects of Act 10 are still being sorted out in Wisconsin, so it may take Iowa years to see the full impact of this legislation.


What do you think of this type of legislation? Are government unions too powerful? Or are legislators on the wrong track in limiting collective bargaining for government employees?


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