Should Iowa Join Ten Other States and Put Right to Work in the Constitution?

In 1947, the Taft-Hartley amendments to the 1935 National Labor Relations Act affirmed states’ right to pass Right-to-Work laws. Right-to-Work laws guarantee that no person can be compelled, as a condition of employment, to join or not to join, nor to pay dues to a labor union.

The Right to Work principle affirms the right of every American to work for a living without being forced to belong to a union. Compulsory unionism in any form–“union,” “closed,” or “agency” shop–is a contradiction of the Right to Work principle and the fundamental human right the principle represents.

As of January 1, 2006, 22 states have adopted Right-to-Work laws. (In 1995, Indiana adopted a Right-to-Work law only applicable to teachers).

State Year Statute
Alabama 1953 No
Arizona 1947 Yes
Arkansas 1947 Yes
Florida 1943 Yes
Georgia 1947 No
Idaho 1985 No
Iowa 1947 No
Kansas 1958 Yes
Louisiana 1976 No
Mississippi 1954 Yes
Nebraska 1947 Yes
Nevada 1951 Yes
North Carolina 1947 No
North Dakota 1947 Yes
Oklahoma 2001 Yes
South Carolina 1954 No
South Dakota 1947 Yes
Tennessee 1947 No
Texas 1993 No
Utah 1955 No
Virginia 1947 No
Wyoming 1963 No

As you can see, ten of the 22 states have taken the extra step of constitutionally protecting its Right to Work laws. Should Iowa join those ten states and do the same? The answer would appear to be “yes.”

Since 2007, the Democrats have sponsored several bills to completely overturn Iowa’s 60-year-old Right-to-Work law. Their attempts require non-union public and private employees to pay a “fair share” fee to the union. The so-called “fair share” fee can be as much as the full amount of union dues.

This alleged “fair share” fee forces non-union members to pay for the “representation” they get at the bargaining table by the collective bargaining unit. House File 555 violates the principle of Iowa’s right-to-work statutes (20.8 for public employees and 731.4 for private employees) and rewrites the statute to allow the opposite of current law.

Particularly, the most egregious portions of House File 555 are:

  • Require non-union employees pay a fee to the certified employee organization (union), by automatic payroll deduction each month (employer is required to make the deduction)
  • Provides a process so that a non-union employee may attempt to reduce their fee to something lower than full union dues (essentially, all employees will be forced to pay union dues unless the succeed in challenging the amount and lowering, but not eliminating it)
  • Amends the “Contracts to Exclude” portion of the right-to-work law (section 731.3) to force those who refuse to join a union to pay dues as a condition of being able to enter into a contract. (This provision is the complete opposite of the intent of Chapter 731)
  • Amends the “Union Dues as Prerequisite to Employment Prohibited” portion of the right-to-work law (section 731.4) to establish the total opposite of the intent of this law and require dues as a precondition to employment
  • Establishes new code section 731.4A authorizing “fair share agreements” as a condition of continued employment for non-union employees. Requires non-union employees after 30 days of employment either to become a member of the union or pay the fair share fee.

Even if HF 555 was amended to remove private sector employees, it will still be a direct assault on the state’s Right to Work law. Putting the Right to Work law in the state Constitution would not prevent such attempts in the future, but would certainly make it more difficult for the Democrats and their union allies to gut the law with fair share bills or similar legislation.

  • No to HF 555 and yes we must keep Iowa a right to work state. I have been a union member, and still am, and a business owner and manager. It is unfair to union labor and non union labor alike to limit options avialable for labor by enforcement of mandatory labor unions. Most definately it is unfare to private and small business owners like myself.