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Iowa unions vote to recertify collective bargaining units

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)
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 — Unionized public employees in Iowa overwhelmingly voted to recertify their collective bargaining units in the latest round of required elections, according to the state’s largest employees union.

Danny Homan, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 61, said Monday that 94 percent of all bargaining units covering 19,793 of the union’s members voted to maintain their union affiliations, according to unofficial results from the state Public Employment Relations Board.

The balloting is required under collective bargaining legislation approved by the 2017 Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature, and Homan said the results indicate that “workers once again rebuked a rigged system that was designed to undermine their voice.”

According to Public Employment Relations Board officials, Iowa is one of only two states with a stipulation that eligible bargaining unit members who do not participate in the recertification balloting are counted as “no” votes — a provision in the legislation, House File 291, modeled after a Wisconsin law. Supporters said the measure was needed partly to hold public sector unions more accountable to their members.

However, in his statement, Homan said recertification elections were created “for one purpose and one purpose only — for public employees to lose their voice at work and to bust their union. What they didn’t realize was that public employees are united, determined and fed up.”

Under Iowa’s previous collective bargaining law approved in the 1970s, public sector workers held votes to certify their unions to be their paid representatives to negotiate contracts. They only faced elections if one of the members petitioned for decertification.

But the rewrite of Iowa’s collective bargaining law now requires public sector unions recertify every time they face a new contract negotiation. If a local association is unsuccessful in its vote, its contract is considered void, according to the Public Employee Relations Board.

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“The take-away here is clear: Iowa’s public employees are not going to sit idly by while their rights are dismantled,” Homan said in his statement. “They will vote to recertify their union and they will vote to elect politicians who actually support their hard work and service to our state.”

l Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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