Unions Push Their Own Big Labor Bailout Bill

From this week’s House Republican Newsletter:

On Tuesday, February 3, several labor unions launched the effort that they hope will end with the Democrats approving and the Governor signing legislation that allows unions to collect forced union fees from non-union employees.

The legislation, referred to by the unions as “fair share,” is a direct assault on the state’s right to work law. Iowa’s right-to-work law prohibits forcing workers to join a union or to pay dues. This bill is essentially a bailout for unions who are facing declining membership.

For public workers who do not belong to a union, the fees would be collected through an automatic payroll deduction. The fees would likely be 75 percent to 85 percent of what union members pay. Workers are fired if they do not pay the fees. To make these fees legal in the private sector, lawmakers would be required to repeal a key paragraph of the right-to-work law – the paragraph that says paying fees to a union cannot be a condition of employment.

Charlie Krogmeier, Governor Culver’s Chief of Staff, admitted that the Governor has had conversations with the unions about the issue and that there is a draft bill. Culver supports “fair share” fees for both public and private workers. In 2007, the issue was approved for public employees by the Senate but not taken up in the House because the Democrats lacked 51 votes needed for passage.

According to an organizer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the money is not for union staff or higher wages for union staff but rather to organize more employees. However, union organizing is staff intensive so saying the fees will not go to fund more union staff is disingenuous.

That is an interesting revelation because in the past fair share fees have been proposed to cover the cost of union representation of non-union workers (a responsibility unions have asked to assume), such as when workers file grievances against their employers.

House Republicans said at the beginning of the session that we would look at every bill and ask the question “Will this help grow Iowa’s economy?” While dismantling the right to work law will grow Iowa’s union membership, it will only hurt Iowa’s economy and therefore must be opposed.

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