Democrats Fight To “The Bitter End” On Collective Bargaining

Democrats stalled the vote on Republicans’ fast-tracked bill to gut Iowa’s collective bargaining bill for as long as they could, but the legislation eventually prevailed this afternoon. Senate File 213 passed on a 29-21 vote, with all Republicans voting in favor. All Democrats were opposed, as well as Republican-turned-Independent David Johnson.

Six Republicans broke rank in the Iowa House on their 53-47 vote to pass House File 291. Those Republicans voting against were Clel Baudler, Mary Ann Hanusa, Dave Heaton, Shannon Lundgren, Andy McKean and Tom Moore. Only Lundgren and McKean represent swing districts.

House Democrats delayed registering their vote until the last moment in order to force Speaker Linda Upmeyer to ask each member of their vote. They stood one-by-one to cast their vote in opposition. Most of the people watching in the gallery stood in solidarity, with some raising their fists in the air.

Senate Democrats forced votes on every simple procedural move following the main vote to slow the process a little more. Union members in the chambers turned their back on the Senate floor as the vote occurred and booed Republicans voting in favor.

The vote in the House and Senate brings to an end the debate over the Republican bill that was introduced just last Tuesday. While Democratic legislators gave hundreds of speeches in opposition throughout the three days of debate, Republicans kept quiet for the most part, only rising to answer questions and providing a few short speeches in support.

The weakest moments for Republican legislators were when Democrats questioned them on how the new health insurance plan for public workers would function, which no longer will be collectively bargained for. It did not appear that those consequences of the bill had been fully thought out yet by Republicans.

At one point this morning Senator Mark Chelgren essentially admitted that Republicans forced the debate to drag through the night in retaliation for the many Democratic amendments.

“You’re darn right. We’re going to fight this until the bitter end,” Senator Pam Jochum told Chelgren.

As the vote drew near, several of the public workers watching in the gallery began to cry as the reality set in. After the vote many shouted that they would remember in 2018.

While the collective bargaining debate has consumed Iowa press coverage for the past week and a half, it has gained little national attention. The hard-right turn that states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio underwent when Republican majorities took over in previous years drew a national focus, but the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency has kept Iowa’s journey a mostly local affair. In a fitting moment that reflected that trend, Trump’s bizarre press conference consumed most reporters’ attention as the Iowa House voted down Democratic amendments.

The bill now goes to Governor Terry Branstad, who will likely quickly sign the legislation into law, which has immediate effects on unions’ current contracts.


by Pat Rynard
Posted 2/16/17

1 Comment on "Democrats Fight To “The Bitter End” On Collective Bargaining"

  • Democrats need to be a the top of their game in 2018. They need good candidates, lots of money, a strong message and highly organzized including on the ground footwork. Strong candidates with rural ties and background which will help bring our Iowa rural folks back into the fold. Elite city folks won’t do it.

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