Iowa Republicans ‘Excited’ To Start Their Own Union-Busting Effort Tonight

Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA)

Wisconsin’s dispute over a union-busting bill seems to have reached an impasse, with the New York Times reporting that talks between Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and the state senate’s Democrats have broken down. Meanwhile, Ohio passed its union-busting bill out of the state senate last week, moving it to the Republican-dominated state house.

Another state considering a similar union-busting bill is Iowa, which tonight will hold a public hearing on legislation that would strip the state’s public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights. The bill includes a provision excluding public employees from bargaining over “outsourcing” or working to impose “any restriction” on factors the government may consider in a layoff. And Iowa’s Republicans, including Gov. Terry Branstad (R), are looking forward to their union-busting effort:

“We’re excited about that bill. It addresses a whole lot of different things,” said House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha. “We tried to be sensitive to all sides concerned.” […]

Gov. Terry Branstad said he welcomes the proposed changes to what he called a “dinosaur” law that is creating employee costs that are unsustainable

Branstad claims that he has “no plans to seek an end to [public employees’] collective bargaining rights,” but this bill would do exactly that, as it not only removes key parts of employee compensation from the bargaining process but would allow “free agent” workers to craft their own side agreements with employers, in a more radical version of “right to work.” “[The bill] does gut collective bargaining, which we’ve had for 37 years in Iowa,” said state Rep. Pat Murphy (D).

Other Republican governors have pointed to their state’s deficit in a false attempt to justify their union-busting efforts. But Iowa can’t even do that. “”The state of Iowa is not broke. We are in the black. We will have a $252 million ending balance in June and we have $650 million in our reserve accounts in case the economy falters,” explained state senator Pat Jochum (D). Iowa’s pension system is currently 81.2 percent funded, putting it on much better footing than most of the pension systems in the country.

Iowa Republicans have already planned to cut back on their universal pre-school program in order to reduce corporate taxes. Passing their union-busting legislation would be just one more way in which they are taking advantage of national economic anxiety to push for changes that are purely ideological and anti-labor.