Collective Bargaining Reform Moves Forward

This week, collective bargaining reform bills moved out of the House and Senate Labor committees. After a public hearing this coming Monday, February 13, both chambers will most likely vote on the bills next week.

Iowa’s current collective bargaining laws (Chapter 20 of the Iowa Code) have not been updated in over 40 years. Chapter 20 allows state government employee unions to negotiate on contract topics such as employee wages, promotions based on seniority, cost of health insurance, amount of vacation time, and how workers are evaluated and terminated. This has not been beneficial to Iowa taxpayers. The reform bills would limit collective bargaining to base wages. All other topics would be off the table.

The reform would also:

  • Prohibit an arbitrator from considering previous bargaining agreements and the consideration of the government’s ability to raise taxes in order to pay for employee benefits. Under Chapter 20, arbitrators can consider the power of the state “to levy taxes and appropriate funds for the conduct of its operations.” In 1991, arbitrators justified giving state employees a 9% raise because of the state’s ability to raise taxes. The next year, Iowa increased the state sales tax from 4% to 5%, a 25% increase.
  • End the practice of withholding union dues from state employee paychecks. Currently, Iowa taxpayers are footing the bill for collecting union membership dues. Union dues are then used to influence legislative activity. This should not be a taxpayer responsibility!
  • Require bargaining units to be re-certified by employees in the calendar year prior to negotiations. Most state government unions have not had a re-certification vote in over 40 years. That means almost all employees have not had the opportunity to vote on their representation.
  • Restore leadership decisions to city, county, school district, and state elected officials by allowing them to reward high performing employees and give them flexibility to deal with those not meeting acceptable performance standards.

Iowans for Tax Relief president Chris Ingstad was one of the speakers who spoke in support of reform at the House and Senate Labor sub-committee meetings. He said, “The size of state government is growing faster than household incomes of Iowans, which means the taxpayer is shouldering a relatively heavier burden. Reform is needed because Iowa should have in place a system that’s able to provide cost savings without having to cut jobs or cut services.”

In 2011, Wisconsin enacted similar collective bargaining changes. The impact of Wisconsin’s reform is significant and has allowed state and local officials to use taxpayer dollars more efficiently. In order for Iowa to avoid deficits and achieve any type of tax reductions, the legislature must address state spending. Collective bargaining reform is a great first step in that direction.


Tuesday, Simon Conway received a call on his WHO 1040-AM radio show from a state government employee. The caller said, “I went for 8 years without a raise. 12 hour days. Not one penny of overtime. That went on for over 10 years.”

Sen. Mark Chelgren responded to the caller, “I would say that is a perfect example of the existing code, Chapter 20, not working. The reason to modify and bring up to date Chapter 20 reform is we want to make sure those individuals working hard and performing well are rewarded.”


Attend and Get Active!

Pro-taxpayer legislators have told us they would appreciate your attendance to provide some balance.  
These are not ITR sponsored forums.

Friday, February 10

Sen. Randy Feenstra
Noon – Pizza Ranch, Sioux Center

Saturday, February 11

Sen. Dan Dawson
9:00 a.m. Woodrow Wilson Jr. High, Council Bluffs

Monday, February 13
Collective Bargaining Reform Public Hearing
6:00 p.m. State Capitol, Des Moines


Iowa Tax News

Updated daily on:
Our website –
Facebook – @IowansforTaxRelief
Twitter – @ITRWatchdog 


“What’s unfair is employees today being stuck with a system put together before they were even born.” – Governor Branstad


We agree with Rep. Steve Holt! Under the current collective bargaining system, the taxpayer is at a disadvantage.


Iowa has the largest pay gap in the nation when comparing state-gov’t workers and private sector workers. 


“Higher efficiency means better service and lower cost of government. A better deal for taxpayers.” – Senator Bill Dix


“We have an opportunity to re-balance and keep the taxpayer in mind. – Speaker of the House Linda Upmeyer


“These changes will ensure we are putting the best teachers in the classroom and give them the best tools.” – Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds

“This is about local control. How do we keep the best employees on the front lines.” – Senator Bill Dix
Yes, the best employees need rewarded!


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