Letter: Public employees are not the enemy

The GOP-filed bills in the Iowa House and Senate are erroneously characterized as “tweaks” to Iowa’s law (Chapter 20, Code of Iowa) governing collective bargaining for public employees.

Section 7 of Chapter 20 is the Employer Rights section. It has been interpreted by the courts to mean any action not limited by Chapter 20 is reserved to public employers to act as they so please. Section 9 of the law is the Scope of Negotiations. It lists 16 items on which employees and employers may negotiate in good faith. Section 9 also specifically states that “Such obligation to negotiate in good faith does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or make a concession.”

I spent almost 30 years representing many different groups of public employees and arbitrating contracts when voluntary agreements could not be reached. That also included employee grievances for violations of signed contracts. It has never been a level playing field. Employers have always had the upper hand. Stripping public employees of what few rights they currently have to talk to their employer about the most basic economic and workplace practices while denying them an impartial hearing is an affront to all workers. Public employees are our fellow Iowans and contribute to our local economies. They are not the enemy as portrayed by the Iowa GOP.

Contact your legislator to oppose this assault on a system that has been a model for other states.

Joe Rasmussen


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