Collective Bargaining: A Bargain For Iowa Taxpayers

Guest post from Danny Homan, President of AFSCME Council 61

In the wake of the election results in November, there has been talk that Republican majorities in the state legislature will propose changes to the collective bargaining rights of public employees. The fact is, Iowa’s system works fairly and equitably for both taxpayers and public employees already.

Studies suggest that Iowans are even getting a bargain from those who provide the vital services that protect and ensure the safety of our communities. According to a 2014 report by the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute, state employee wages in Iowa are 4 percent less than those of private sector employees across the state. Adding in benefits for total compensation also shows male and female public-sector workers in Iowa earning 7.9 percent and 10.8 percent less than private sector workers, according to a 2011 study by the Iowa Policy Project.

Unfortunately, however, legislators are being pushed by outside interests to derail our current system that has worked well for more than four decades, providing taxpayers consistent and quality public services, and hard-working public employees fair wages and benefits.

In fact, labor and management bargaining together has yielded many savings for Iowa’s taxpayers over the years. Since 2010, efficiency processes adopted in the state’s employee contract has saved an estimated $336 million in taxes.

Public employees have tightened their belts, too. In tough times, they have negotiated agreements with no wage increases, accepted mandatory unpaid leave, suffered large layoffs, and now pay a larger share of wages in to a retirement plan, and pay a portion of their health insurance premiums.

Iowans should beware. In Wisconsin, one-party rule has been disastrous. Since decimating the collective bargaining law for public employees in 2011, that state’s job growth has lagged behind the national average, fell to 35th overall, and ranks worst in the Midwest. Shortages of teachers and corrections officers, two professions affected by the change in collective bargaining, has also created crises in education and public safety in Wisconsin.

Public employees are the cops and firefighters who keep us safe. They’re nurses who care for our veterans, school teachers that educate our kids, DOT drivers who clear the snow so we can get to work safely, and corrections officers who ensure violent criminals are locked up where they belong.

These Iowans, like all Iowans, deserve a system that allows them to bargain collectively to earn fair wages and reasonable benefits.


by Danny Homan
Posted 1/9/17

5 Comments on "Collective Bargaining: A Bargain For Iowa Taxpayers"

  • “The fact is, Iowa’s system works fairly and equitably for both taxpayers and public employees already.”

    This is not correct. Working Iowans pay a significant portion of their paychecks for healthcare. Current collective bargaining has placed essentially the total cost of healthcare on the backs of taxpayers. Market rates for comparable positions also favor the state employee over those in the private sector. There should be balance in economic positions.

  • One should note that the people of Wisconsin voted for GOP candidates, including President-Elect Trump. They did that for an obvious reason, the changes passed in Wisconsin are seen as good for the people of Wisconsin.

    • I voted for president elect Trump also. I typically vote republican but that doesn’t mean I would vote to rob 60,000 hard working people from their wages and benefits. I can guarentee that the results in Wisconsin are not in any way positive. Has their roads became better? Are their schools a better learning environment (keep in mind this union, AFSCME, covers the teachers)? Where are those “saved” taxes at? Who has benefited? The politicians are the only one seeing that money. Is that money well spent? Don’t be so ignorant to believe that this is a simple issue.
      Let’s not forget that Iowa was in the surplus the last two years. Have you seen any improvements in our state? I didn’t think so.

  • Gary how can you begin to think that this is logical thinking. What would happen to our economy when 60,000 workers get their pay cut? You want to make cuts? take a run at the politics who are robbing your taxes. Branstad collects a retirement, paid by your taxes, and a salary paid by your taxes. Minimum wage was just raised 13.8% here in Cedar Rapids. So, those who have no education and no skill deserve a raise and more pay but those who are educated and have skills deserve less? Common man. Use your brain. About half of those I work with have 4 year degrees. Just under half are military vets. Check out our soon to be governor, Lt governor Reynolds, who just earned a bachelors last year. Do you think her pay and benefits are reasonable? Common man. Cut money from hard working Iowans in the middle and working classes… you sir have no brains.

  • Iowa’s “right to work” for less laws robs all workers. It is anti-union and opposed to employer-paid health care. Unions are the guiding force that created jobs and increased salaries and added benefits resulting in greater productivity and profits for the employers. California has unions in every industry and California is the richest state in the nation. Iowa discriminates against minorities, handicapped, senior citizens, etc. especially with Branstad as governor, and many Iowans have left Iowa for more pay, the right to privacy, to not be harassed for what they do in private, or fear of losing their jobs as they grow older. With Kim Reynolds the anointed queen of the GOP, she is already sharpening her claws on the right of women to control their own body and reproductive rights, attacks workers as “too greedy” and has put on the mantra of Trump. Iowa cannot excel nor succeed with the GOP in power. Trump is the worse president in modern time, and Reynolds will destroy Iowa in the same way as Trump is destroying what was the United States of America (now transmogrified into the Divided States of America) as fascism increases unchecked with the KKK and American NAZIs set on ending rights for those they do not tolerate (the NAZIs have moved into Montana to check the Jewish community, and the KKK has been active in Iowa as an alternative to legitimate police forces in “weeding out” undocumented workers: the same reality as occurred in the emerging Third Reich.

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