Public Workers to Lawmakers: Make Voting to Keep Unions as Easy as Possible

Aug 4, 2017

Representatives of public employees who could lose their union representation appeared before a statehouse committee Friday to express concern about Iowa’s new collective bargaining law.   

Starting next month, thousands of public workers will cast ballots to continue to be represented by unions.    

The new law requires the regular recertification votes. Retaining union representation used to be automatic. 

We should provide the fewest barriers to someone to vote. -Charlie Wishman

Republicans on the Administrative Rules Review Committee approved emergency rules clearing the way for the voting. Final approval of the rules will not occur until after the first elections take place.

“How many elections will we have that will be affected by these emergency rules?” asked Rep. Rick Olson (D-Des Moines.)

“We anticipate doing 15 elections in September and roughly 600 elections in October will be affected by these rules,” said Public Employment Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Amber DeSmet.

The early elections will involve more than 40,000 workers.  

Under the law, anyone declining to vote will be counted as a no.   

“It really is a high bar that employee organizations have to meet,” said Secretary Treasurer for the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO Charlie Wishman. 

Public Employment Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Diana Machir
Credit Joyce Russell/IPR

Union representatives argued employees should be able to cast their ballots on the job to maximize turnout.

“It should be everyone's goal that we should provide the fewest barriers to someone to vote in these elections,”  Wishman said.

Officials said it will be up to the employers to decide whether to allow voting during work hours.   

"That will be up to particular departments and agencies,"  said Iowa Public Employment Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Diana Machir.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Iowa State Education Association have filed separate lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the new law.