116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
*This storyline was voted as one of the top storylines of 2017 by Gazette staff. Other top storylines include President Trump's first year in office, the Kinnick 'wave” to UI Stead Family Children's Hospital patients, and former Gov. Terry Branstad's appointment to be U.S. ambassador to China.
Legislators earlier this year enacted drastic changes to Iowa's 43-year-old collective bargaining law, scaling back public-sector workers' rights to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions.
Democrats objected to the legislation being rushed through the Iowa Legislature in just a matter of days, and hundreds of teachers, children and activists rallied outside the Statehouse in mid-February, decrying the changes as a gutting of public employees' rights.
But as one of his last acts as governor, Terry Branstad signed the changes into law Feb. 17 - only 10 days after the changes came to light in the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Public unions took swift action, but have suffered setbacks.
Both AFSCME Council 61 and the Iowa State Education Association challenged the new law in court. AFSCME is the state's largest public employee union with about 40,000 public workers, and the ISEA is the state's largest teachers' union with more than 30,000 members.
Both court challenges have been denied and then appealed.
Despite the overhaul of the law, most of Iowa's local public sector bargaining units recertified as required this fall.
'Today, local associations overwhelmingly chose the union to help represent their best interests and the interests of their students, schools and the communities in which they live,” ISEA President Tammy Wawro told The Gazette in October after 216 of 220 locals passed their votes. 'So it appears that recertification elections were just another obstacle the Legislature placed in front of Iowa's public employee unions in an effort to weaken them.”