Iowa union appeals rejection of collective bargaining lawsuit

Danny Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, speaks to supporters of collective bargaining following a vote on a bill limiting public-sector unions at the State Capitol in Des Moines on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. The House and Senate passed the bill after Republicans cut off the debate using a
Danny Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, speaks to supporters of collective bargaining following a vote on a bill limiting public-sector unions at the State Capitol in Des Moines on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. The House and Senate passed the bill after Republicans cut off the debate using a "time certain" procedural move to expedite passage of the bill. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — The state’s largest public employee union is appealing a district judge’s ruling that denied the union’s challenge to Iowa’s new collective bargaining law.

AFSCME Council 61, which represents roughly 40,000 public workers in Iowa, made the announcement Tuesday afternoon.

“From Day One, we have recognized the likelihood that this case would end up in the Iowa Supreme Court, and today’s appeal takes us one step closer to that outcome,” AFSCME President Danny Homan said in a statement.

“We have no timeline for knowing whether or not the Supreme Court of Iowa will hear our case, but we will never stop fighting for the rights of Iowa public employees.”

In February, the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature overhauled the state’s collective bargaining laws, stripping most elements for which public employees may bargain through union representation.

Just three days later, AFSCME filed a lawsuit challenging the new law, saying it violates the Iowa Constitution by creating separate classes of public employees: some who retained most of their collective bargaining rights, and others who lost most.

A district court judge rejected the lawsuit Oct. 30.

The union’s appeal may send the case to the Iowa Supreme Court, or the Supreme Court may send it to the Appeals Court for review.

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“Republicans at the Capitol thought they could silence us by gutting the collective bargaining law, but they underestimated the power of working Iowans determined to reclaim their rights,” Homan said.

The Iowa State Education Association, which represents more than 30,000 public educators in the state, is on a similar legal trajectory regarding the new collective bargaining law. The group also challenged the law, also had its challenge rejected, and also has appealed that ruling.

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