Iowa Public Workers Vote Overwhelmingly To Recertify In Wake Of Union Busting Law
Public sector workers and their unions across Iowa have overwhelmingly stood up against the state’s new anti-union collective bargaining law, with 98 percent statewide voting to re-certify their unions. One of the provisions of the union-busting law requires re-certification elections before every contract expiration.
Iowa State Education Association President Tammy Wawro notes that while the votes in all the elections favored the union by wide margins, an unfair system counted a handful of losses.
[Tammy Wawro]: “The election itself is very unfair. It is everyone, member of our union or non-member. If you don’t vote, it’s counted as a no-vote. The state votes for you.”
Calling the process “rigged”, AFSCME Council 61 President Dan Homan is challenging the union’s single loss, caused by a single voided vote in a bargaining unit of four people:
[Dan Homan]: “In our opinion we won 42 of 42 and one of them was stolen from us. The teachers won 216 out of 220. I’m ecstatic by it.”
The effects of failing to re-certify could be felt quickly, as the state’s Public Employment Relations Board has determined that contracts for workers that don’t re-certify will be null and void ten days after the election, regardless of when they actually expire:
[Dan Homan]: “In this crooked law that we have, in effect, even though that contract is good until June thirtieth of next year, they’re going to void the contract out about November third or fourth of this year…which I will also challenge for that one unit.”
The unions mobilized to educate their members about the process and what was at stake:
[Tammy Wawro]: “Relationships matter, and they have mattered for us forever because we’re a right-to-work state already, so, you know, our members choose to be members and we’ve had to work and have those one-on-one conversations. We did a lot of educating. Our 220 local presidents all knew the law; they knew what this meant to our profession and to their kids; and they were able to turn around and share that story and make sure their members understood. So, knowledge is power and we hit them with that right away. We were very successful. We had 90 percent turnout rate, which for an election I think it’s unheard of. So, that was pretty impressive.”
Out of 22,000, only a handful of educators in Iowa will be losing their ISEA contracts:
[Tammy Wawro]: “So, I have 46 members now that are no-longer going to be covered under a bargaining contract, but we are going to be there for them stronger than ever.”
Homan stressed that the law has absolutely nothing to do with good public policy:
[Dan Homan]: “It has everything to do with trying to take away a voice from working men and women, to silence them and take away their ability to represent themselves at the table. They’re going to require me to spend a lot of time, energy and money to do this, but the one thing they didn’t count on is I’m not going to let them win. They can go to hell! We’re gonna fight with everything we have to get to the elections of November 2018, and then we’re throwing them out of office, every last one of them, because they just put a knife in the back of every working man and woman in the state of Iowa, whether you’re union or not.”