AFSCME’s public sector union workers will cast their votes for the third year in a row next week to recertify their unions.
This year’s voting cycle runs from 8 a.m. Oct. 15 through 9 a.m. Oct. 29.
Iowa’s public sector union workers have been forced to recertify their unions every year since 2017.
That year, Republican legislators and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad gutted Chapter 20 of the Iowa Code and took away many basic collective bargaining rights from public sector union employees.
Branstad’s revising of Chapter 20 included adding new requirements that mandate public unions to recertify 10 months prior to the expiration of a contract.
Unlike normal elections, unions have an extra hurdle to overcome. If a union member fails to vote in the recertification process, it counts as a “no” vote. Essentially, unions have to get 50% plus one of their entire membership to vote “yes,” not just a majority of those who actually vote.
“Recertification elections were created by legislative Republicans and Governor Reynolds for one purpose and one purpose only: for public employees to lose their voice at work and to bust their union,” said AFSCME president Danny Homan, in a press release. “What they didn’t realize was that public employees are united, determined, and fed up.”
Last year, 94% of all bargaining units, covering 19,793 employees, won recertification.
If a union loses the recertification vote, then it loses its contract 10 days after the election is certified.
They also lose the chance to get a new contract for at least the next two years.
If unions do not recertify, their employers have the ability to lower workers’ pay and pay grade with no recourse from employees.
“While this process was unnecessarily challenging and unfair at every turn, I am immensely proud of our members and leaders who stepped up to earn every last vote,” Homan said, about last year’s victory. “We worked hard to communicate the rigged system put in place to each and every eligible voter, and that work paid off.
“The takeaway here is clear: Iowa’s public employees are not going to sit idly by while their rights are dismantled,” he continued. “They will vote to recertify their union and they will vote to elect politicians who actually support their hard work and service to our state.”
The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 61 represents 40,000 public employees in Iowa, including law enforcement and correctional officers, firefighters, mental health workers, professional school staff, emergency responders, and many other workers.
AFSCME Council 61 also represents home health care and child care providers across the state and private sector workers at Prairie Meadows, Palmer College of Chiropractic, Des Moines University, and ABM [Marshalltown].
By Paige Godden