State News Feed

Iowa unions brace for bargaining bill impact

CORALVILLE COURIER EDITOR'S NOTE: And here we go, unions are starting to whine now about the inevitable drop in numbers, with the media aiding and abetting in the whining..... Here's a thought, employees are now free to leave the union, which means they really didn't want to belong in the first place.

DES MOINES — If Wisconsin is any guide, Iowa’s public-sector unions are facing a precipitous decline in membership, even as their leaders vow to survive the effects of the overhaul of Iowa’s 43-year-old collective bargaining law, which Gov. Terry Branstad signed Friday.

In the five years after Act 10 was approved in Wisconsin, membership in two of the three councils of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union dropped by 70 percent, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The union representing teachers in Milwaukee lost 30 percent of its members.


UPDATE: Iowa Democrats debate through night on bargaining bill

CORALVILLE COURIER EDITOR'S NOTE: This is about money, nothing but. Democrats will lose political contributions, don't believe anything else they try to tell you. It's about money.

The proposed changes to Iowa's collective bargaining law would drastically change how public sector unions negotiate and organize on behalf of roughly 180,000 people in the state. Academics say the ripple effect is weakened unions with reduced membership and less financial stability.

That could impact how those labor groups are able to lobby for legislative changes. Data show key public sector unions in Iowa often finance Democrats.


Iowa tops deficient bridges list for 3rd year in a row

DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – Iowa for the third year in a row has more bridges considered to be deficient than any other state.

The latest annual rankings from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), which reflect 2016 data, show Iowa has 4,968 bridges classified as “structurally deficient,” meaning the bridges are not currently unsafe but need attention as soon as possible.


Iowa Politics Today: Bill switching Iowa to yearlong daylight saving time advances further in House

MORE DAYLIGHT: Iowa could leave the Central Time Zone under a plan a House subcommittee recommended Wednesday. A House subcommittee endorsed ending the twice-a-year clock change by making daylight saving time the “new normal” in Iowa. Originally, HF 206 would have ended daylight saving time in Iowa by establishing year-round Central Standard Time as Iowa’s official 24-hour daily measurement. Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, called daylight saving time an “antiquated system” from a more agrarian time. Although it might create some problems along Iowa’s borders, he is interested in ending the twice-a-year clock change in favor of “more sunlight in the evening.” Rep. John Wills, R-Spirit Lake, told the subcommittee “I come from a tourist area so this is very attractive.”


Iowa House advances bill blocking Planned Parenthood funding

After hearing passionate testimony from both sides, an Iowa House subcommittee voted 2-1 Monday to advance a bill that blocks public funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

Senate File 2 was approved along party lines with Republican Reps. Kevin Koester of Ankeny and Shannon Lundgren of Peosta both voting yes. The sole Democrat, Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell of Ames, voted no. The bill has already passed the Iowa Senate.


GOP trying to bust unions, Iowa AFSCME head says

DES MOINES — Unions that represent Iowa’s public employees think they are on the receiving end of a politically motivated attack from state lawmakers who seek to change dramatically the way some public employees collectively bargain for benefits.

Republican lawmakers last week introduced sweeping legislation that essentially rewrites the state’s collective bargaining laws. GOP officials say the current system, established in the 1970s, favors public employees at the expense of taxpayers.

Many provisions would significantly weaken unions’ bargaining position.


Iowa abandons unemployment kiosk system

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa officials have confirmed that the state has stopped servicing or tracking the more than 700 self-help computer kiosks installed to replace dozens of unemployment offices closed in 2011 as a money-saving effort.

Iowa Workforce Development spokeswoman Courtney Greene told The Des Moines Register ( ) that it's unknown how many kiosks in the virtual access points program are still dedicated to helping the unemployed. Initially the kiosks were placed in public places such as libraries and homeless shelters.

Greene says improved technology that lets Iowans file for weekly unemployment claims by smartphone has made the kiosks less essential. She says the kiosk system was discontinued as part of the department's efficiency efforts. It's unclear when the department ended the program.


Iowa lawmakers close in on new rules to blunt public unions

A 68-page bill that majority Republicans say only “tweaks” the 16-page law seeks to limit the topics that public employees who are not public safety workers could bring to the bargaining table; changes arbitration rules; alters how unions are certified; and eliminates the longtime practice of gathering union dues through payroll deductions.

Those not involved in public safety would be able to bargain only for base wages. Under current law, they can bargain for insurance, hours, vacations, holidays, overtime compensation and health and safety matters.

That doesn’t mean those issues couldn’t ever be discussed, said House Labor Committee Chairman Dave Deyoe, R-Nevada, because they would be “permissive” subjects under the bills.


Iowa sheriffs wait to see how executive order impacts 'sanctuary city' policy

President Donald Trump's executive order to withhold federal money from "sanctuary cities" will not change how the Polk County Sheriff's Office handles inmates suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

But changes are already underway in a handful of Iowa counties that elected new sheriffs in the fall.

Franklin County Sheriff Linn Larson is rewriting the policy on how his department deals with undocumented workers.

"It basically states that the Franklin County sheriff will cooperate and work with any federal law enforcement agency as long as we have manpower … and that request doesn’t violate any laws," he said. "It’s that simple."


Iowa senators seek to force businesses to crack down on illegal workers

An Iowa senator pushing legislation meant to crack down on employers who hire undocumented immigrants says stricter rules will level the playing field for Iowans who unfairly compete for jobs with those unauthorized to work in the United States.

State Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola, is among 19 Republican senators sponsoring Senate File 172, a bill introduced last week that would require all Iowa employers with at least 25 workers to use the federal E-Verify system when hiring workers.