Letter: Lawmakers must act on own values

As I’ve listened to the debate and media coverage around collective bargaining, I‘ve heard a lot of lobbyists support the legislation. I’ve also heard a lot of constituents bring up concerns. From Republican legislators, I’ve heard vague generalities. Republican legislators sound like they’re trying to support something that got handed to them, rather than something they believe in.

I do not belong to a union. I’m a manager in a non-union industry. One thing I’ve learned about employee relations is that you need to communicate with employees. The bills on collective bargaining block communication. This is bad management and when we’re talking about tens of thousands of state employees it’s disastrous legislation. My grandfathers were a train engineer and a firefighter and my mother was a nurse. I did not grow up rich, but I grew up in a stable environment largely because of the unions they belonged to.

Legislators may feel they need to listen to lobbyists who fund their campaigns. I ask is that you act on your own values. You serve the public and I don’t mean just those in unions.

If there are elements of agreements with unions that you don’t like — roll up your sleeves, stiffen your back and negotiate. Don’t shut out the labor force. It will lead to strife, strikes and dangerous work environments. There is a reason Chapter 20 exists. It was needed when it was enacted by a Republican governor and it’s been useful in maintaining strong relations for 40 years.

Brendan Owens

Cedar Rapids

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