‘Fair share’ poses threat to current recovery, future development

The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil posted an article on Fair Share today:

Democrats, who control both houses of the Iowa Legislature, are again moving ahead with a labor-backed measure that failed last year. While it remains unclear if the proposal will fare any better in the current session, passage, in our view, poses threats to both the current recovery and to future economic development.

The House Labor Committee crafted and approved a new version of the so-called fair share legislation last week that would allow unions to collect a fee from workers in a bargaining unit who haven’t joined the union. Minority Republicans, joined by some moderate Democrats, mustered enough votes last year to block the measure.

“I wouldn’t want to speculate at this point because we really don’t know,” House Speaker Pat Murphy, D-Dubuque, told the Associated Press. “We haven’t reached a consensus yet.” Compared to a year ago, the fair share bill has been watered down to make it more palatable to Democrats whose opposition was key to the bill’s defeat during the last legislative session.The new fair share plan would apply only to the largest union representing state workers, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

“It’s a much smaller measure,” said Sen. Tom Courtney, D-Burlington, a backer of fair share.

Still, the Labor Committee had to work more than four hours this week before approving the fair share plan, and critics demanded a public hearing to vent their views that the proposal guts the state’s labor laws. That hearing will be this week.

Despite changes to the bills, they still face unanimous opposition by Republicans, and the moderate Democrats who rejected them last year don’t seem eager to change their stand.

Republicans are focusing plenty of attention on the measures, saying they would end Iowa’s status as a right-to-work state, where workers can’t be forced to join a union as a condition of employment.

“It’s absolutely a repeal of Iowa right to work, and it’s absolutely the wrong way to go,” said House Minority Leader Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha.

First enacted in 1947 as an outgrowth of the Taft-Hartley Act that was enacted the same year over President Harry S. Truman’s veto, Iowa’s right to work statute has ensured that workers who choose not to join a union cannot be forced to do so as a condition of employment.

Paulsen argued that backers are desperate to find some way to get the measures to Gov. Chet Culver, who indicated last year he would sign such legislation.

Others accused Democrats of grandstanding on the labor issues to court organized labor in an election year.

“It’s political payback. We all know that,” said Rep. Lance Horbach, R-Tama, a leading critic of the fair share measure.

Approval of fair share legislation would, in our opinion, provide a compelling reason for companies to bypass Iowa and look elsewhere to build manufacturing plants, warehouses and corporate offices. This consideration is critical to western Iowa as both Nebraska and South Dakota have right to work laws.

(Source: Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil)