Union Lawyer Warns of Lawsuits on Overtime Pay

Aug 7, 2017

Iowa’s largest public employees union is warning of likely legal action after hundreds of government workers lost their overtime rights as of July 1st.   

Under Iowa’s new collective bargaining law, professional employees who hold 160 different government jobs will no longer get paid for overtime. 

There will be lawsuits it will cost the state to defend. -AFSCME lawyer Mark Hedberg

Mark Hedberg is an attorney for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees or AFSCME. 

Hedberg told the legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee that under the new policy, federal law will provide the main oversight for professional employees.   

That means complaints will move into the courts.

“There will be lawsuits it will cost the state to defend, judgements will be brought against them, penalties are afforded under the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as attorney fees,” Hedberg said.  “We feel it will cause more problems than it will solve.”

Hedberg argued overtime pay is an industry standard for many of the employees.

“The best and brightest will likely leave for more competitive positions in the private sector,” Hedberg said. 

Overtime pay is no longer covered under the new collective bargaining law. - DAS Deputy Director David Heuton

But state agencies are making exceptions for some jobs that are in especially high demand.

“That covers registered nurses at the Department of Corrections, the Department of Human Services, the Veterans Home, nurse clinicians at the Veterans Home, and I believe one psychiatrist at the Department of Corrections,” said Department of Administrative Services Deputy Director David Heuton.

Heuton said the federal Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers to deny overtime pay to certain professional employees.

In the past, the Iowa workers negotiated overtime pay through their union contracts.  

“Overtime pay is no longer covered under Iowa’s new collective bargaining law,” Heuton said.