Despite objections from thousands of Iowans, Republicans at the State Capitol unraveled 40 years of teachers, firefighters, law enforcement, and other working Iowans having a voice in their own workplace this year.
Written behind closed doors without input from Iowa workers, House File 291 gutted public sector collective bargaining rights and returns working Iowans to a system where the political party in power has the right to decide the fate of all public employees. After it was approved by Republican lawmakers, Governor Branstad signed the bill the next morning in a private ceremony closed to the public, but open to corporate-backed special interest lobbyists.
Under the new law, teachers, nurses, and other working Iowans are prohibited from discussing workplace conditions and how their job is done. Every year or two, the public employee union must organize entire bargaining units to vote in a mandated election not requested by any public employees in the union.
As the bill was fast tracked by Republicans, many bargaining units across the state quickly negotiated and approved new agreements before the new law took effect. After the bill was signed, any contracts that were being negotiated and not completed had to start over under the new provisions of the bill, costing taxpayer’s additional money.