I was given the opportunity to sit on the floor of the Iowa House (thanks to Erik Helland) during tonight’s public forum on House File 2420, which allows unions to collects fees from employees that work in the Executive Branch of the Iowa government to cover the costs of contract bargaining and grievance assistance. It became clear that the new selling title for this bill is “Reasonable Reimbursement”.
In the Iowa House chamber, there were 58 speakers today, 32 in favor and 28 against House File 2420.
Almost every speaker in favor of the bill had little more to say than “everyone benefits, so everyone should pay”. Not much explanation why someone who does not want to be represented by a union has to pay the union, and why people should be forced to pay to have a job. There was some attempt to explain why unions shouldn’t just drop representing non-members. If I had to sit and listen to just all of the speakers in favor of the bill, I probably would have fallen asleep by the time it was half over due to the redundancy. Mind you, I’m glad that all of those speakers took the time to come and speak, but the argument is pretty simple and not compelling (at least not to me).
Maggie Martin probably stated the supporter’s position best: “Basically we are putting unions in the position of providing services for free This bill rights that wrong.”
One union leader admitted that the ultimate goal is repeal of Right to Work even though such a repeal doesn’t “resonate with Iowans”.
Another supporter (John Neiderbach) said: “Read the bill. This is a very modest bill.” As if partly bad isn’t a problem.
Interesting were the number of people who opposed the bill that one would have expected to be in support of it. At least one democrat who is a business owner, one educator, and a retire union member.
The most compelling positions in opposition to the bill included:
- (I am not sure of the name of the speaker) Many companies looking to come to Iowa will not due to this very bill because they will not even take the time to look at the code and understand that the bill only impacts the public sector (and only the Iowa State Executive Branch of Government).
- Jason White later said that the bill has a “detrimental effect on Iowa business development”. Also explained that companies react even to the discussions of these bills.
- Heather Stancil made a case for the bill being unconstitutional.
- Matt Sexton (Iowa College Republicans) said that Democratic leaders are working against the will of the people of Iowa.
- Dimitri Kesari (National Right To Work Committee) stated what was also tweeted earlier by Representative Nick Wagner: Unions negotiated their way into sole representation of all employees.
- Richard Rogers said: “Most Iowans don’t believe in compulsory anything. This bill is not about fairness, but about power and will be used against the citizens of Iowa. Perhaps employees should be allowed to choose from multiple competing unions.”
- Dave Funk (Republican Candidate for 3rd District US House), a retired union member and opponent of the bill, said “This bill is about liberty, about economic recovery.”
My biggest whine about tonight is that I had to listen to so many people refer to this as a “Small Fee”. This is a $5.3 Million windfall for labor unions, money essentially promised to the unions by Democrats. That’s the driver behind this, not fairness.
There is no legislative mandate for unions to represent everyone, and I agree that perhaps there could be multiple unions competing for employees. It’s a farce to think that unions are “stuck” representing non-members, and it’s just not right that anyone would be required to pay for the opportunity to have a job. But most importantly, we will undoubtedly hamper economic development, JOB development, by passing this bill.
Jason Clayworth captured several more sets of comments here.
I need to apologize that I have been unable, in recent weeks, to keep this blog current for you.Â As most of you know, I have discontinued my radio show due to the time commitment, and hope to get more writing done as a result.Â Your kind patience is appreciated.Â And now…
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At 5:00 PM this afternoon a public forum is scheduled to hear comments on Democrats attempt to tear apart Iowa’s long history as a Right To Work state (House File 2420, formally HSB 702).Â It will be held in the Iowa House Chamber (details provided by Shane Vander Hart last week).Â I will be there and will provide updates via Twitter and an updated post later tonight.
This is potentially one of the last great attempts by power-gorged Democrats to rake Iowans over the coals.Â True, this year’s bill only drops 18,000 Executive Branch employees into the lions’ den, but at a whopping $5.3 Million theft of personal income.Â This is another example of how our left-thinking leaders (*sigh*) believe they are empowered to redistribute wealth.
Consider, my friends, the fact that the unions that state employees are members of (voluntarily today) exist under the guise of protecting those employees from the very government that is now handing them (the unions) the keys to the state treasury.
And this is YOUR MONEY that is being used to BUY THE VOTES of more “fairly” fund the labor unions.
Who needs the unions when the General Assembly is more than happy to throw your money away?Â Let the poor government employees keep their dues!
If this passes, and if Democrats continue to hold power next year, the law will almost certainly be expanded to include the public sector.
Call your state House Member and Senator and tell them you do NOT want to see this bill (commonly referred to as “Fair Share”) become law.Â And then you can just say “bye-bye” to any new major business development in Iowa.
I know I don’t have to worry about my Representative in the Iowa House, Peter Cownie (R-House District 60).Â Here’s his update from today on this very topic:
Iowa has a proud history of being a â€œRight to Workâ€ state since 1947 when it became law. This means an employee does not have to pay union dues if he or she so chooses. It is that simple: Iowans do not have to pay union dues if they are not a member of that union. I believe very strongly in this law and the economic freedoms it protects.
Being a â€˜Right to Workâ€™ state is a selling point that economic development groups use in attracting more businesses and jobs to Iowa. In the current economic climate, there is nothing more important than attracting new business and jobs to Iowa. Furthermore, the Legislature should always keep in mind how to ensure that the businesses and jobs we already have in Iowa remain in Iowa. Forced unionization is not the way to do either.
According to the Association of Business and Industry, a group that represents hundreds of businesses and 300,000 people in Iowa, â€œbeing a Right to Work state is a powerful tool that businesses look at when locating to Iowa. Any erosion of this would be a detriment to Iowaâ€™s business climate and that is exactly what we donâ€™t need today.â€So, that brings us to a bill that is being floated around the Capitol today. â€œFair Shareâ€ is what it is commonly known as in the news and among advocates. The current bill is narrowly written to apply only to Executive Branch public employees of the State of Iowa. This means that Executive Branch employees would be forced to pay dues to a union to which they have chosen not to join. The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency estimates this will generate an additional $5.3 million in revenue annually for the state employees unions. Eighteen thousand Iowans who currently choose not to join the union will be paying that $5.3 million.
I do not believe now is the time to force a $5.3 million burden on 18,000 Iowans. I will not be supporting this bill.
From Iowa House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen’s office:
(DES MOINES)â€”Today in the House Labor committee, Democrats assigned a bill which would gut Iowaâ€™s right to work law. House Study Bill 702 is an attempt by House Democrats to take away Iowansâ€™ choice to join a union.
Iowaâ€™s right to work law guarantees that no person can be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join, not join or pay any fees to a labor union. Iowaâ€™s right to work law has been in place since 1947. This bill is a direct attack on hard-working Iowansâ€™ liberties.
â€œIt is simply wrong to tell someone they must give their hard-earned dollars to an organization they have chosen not to be a member of,â€ said House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha). â€œA union is not forced to represent non-members. They choose forced monopoly bargaining and now they want to force payment for providing those unwanted services.â€
Under the Democratsâ€™ plan, public employees who are non-union would be forced to pay a fee to the union as a condition of their employment, thus completely gutting Iowaâ€™s right to work law.
We’ve been waiting for this.Â Here’s link to the bill.Â Democrats tried to do this last year (it was called “Fair Share” then), and the year before, and, oh wait, they’ve been trying to rip out Right To Work for over fifty years!Â Representative Ralph Watts (R – District 47) wrote this piece a year ago, and is still just as relevant today:
Nothing Fair about Fair Share
Two years ago, after the Democrats took over the Governorâ€™s office, the State Senate and the State House, we started getting more labor bills than I had seen previously. The labor unions had put a lot of money into their candidates and they were here for the payoff. One of those bills was the principle called Fair Share. It was passed by the Senate in 2007 and ran aground in the House when several members of the majority party refused to support the measure. After the extreme pressure put on their caucus to support the bill, one of the Democrats changed registration and became a Republican member of the House and was re-elected in 2008 as a Republican. Apparently her constituents appreciated the principled stand that she took. Emboldened by the increase in Democrats after the last election, the measure is being considered again.
Fair Share sounds on the surface like a fair bill. Itâ€™s anything but fair in a Right to Work state such as Iowa and, in effect, would negate the protections offered by the Right to Work law. What Fair Share would do is to make it mandatory for employees who are part of a work group that is represented by a union to pay union dues, whether that employee desired to be a member or not. In a nutshell, it would be a back door repeal of the Right to Work law. Under that law no person can be compelled to pay dues or belong to a union. It has been on the books since 1947.
In an interesting dÃ©jÃ vu moment, a copy of the February 3, 1959 Mason City Globe Gazette front page was distributed to us Tuesday as a reminder of the tragedy where three rock and roll stars died in a tragic plane crash after performing at the Surf Ballroom in Mason City. On that same front page was a large article that talked about a â€œfiery debateâ€ in the Iowa House over the Right to Work Law. The Democrats have been trying to repeal, or otherwise get rid of, that particular law for the past fifty years. They have been pushing it hard for a good reason; the membership in unions has been declining over the years.
The reason the unions give for wanting this bill passed is that it will help pay for the costs of supporting those members who do not belong or pay dues to the unions, but they are required to serve. The facts tell a different story. In an article in the Register this week a representative of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) said the forced union dues wonâ€™t go to cover their costs associated with representing non-paying members, it will go to increased organizing and recruiting.
This is a critical issue for Iowa Taxpayers and the effort spent by unions to get it passed raises another question whether it is time to revisit the issue of public employee unions in Iowa. Since the mid-70â€™s when our current law was passed (Chapter 20) there has been a quantum leap in the cost of state and local government in Iowa. Public employee unions have been successful in organizing most state, county, and local employees and the impact has been a principle reason for taxes of all stripes increasing in the state. I will add that I am not anti-union because there are examples of bad management practices throughout our history that caused the unions to be organized, but like many other issues, there needs to be a balance. Allowing the unions to control our government to the extent they have taken control should be a cause for concern for all Iowa taxpayers.
This one is definitely worth contacting your Iowa legislator (click here to find your Iowa General Assembly Representatives) and let them know what you think about giving labor unions free reign to steal money from non-union members.Â Keep in mind, this bill currently only impacts government worker unions, but it’s still wrong and will certainly lead to moves to provide the same right of theft to other unions.