This year marks the 5th year anniversary of when the Iowa legislature destroyed the rights of public servants to bargaining collectively. For more than 40 years, public servants in communities large and small, knew that Iowa had their backs and they could rest easy when they went home after work, knowing they had a say in their own working conditions and benefits. But 5 years ago, corporate owned politicians decided that snow plow drivers, sanitation workers, school bus drivers, teachers, nurses and other public servants shouldn’t have a voice on the job and the results have been devastating.
Gutless politicians from both parties sitting on school boards, city councils, county boards of supervisors and the state of Iowa itself, started voluntarily gutting union contracts – not because they had to but because they could.
Our members have been sharing their stories of how this attack on their union rights has personally affected them. A school bus driver told us that his District took bereavement leave out of his union contract right before his mother passed away and he didn’t have as much time off to grieve as he would have had just a month before. A snow plow driver tells us his insurance premiums keep going up and his wife has cystic fibrosis and they are suffering both physically and financially because of this bad law. And a county jailer tells us they lost their longevity pay and years of public service to the county now means nothing.
And now our communities are feeling the results. Public service jobs traditionally have had a higher percentage of women in the field than their private sector counterparts, a higher percentage public sector workers have college degrees, and public sector jobs used to be the best jobs in virtually every city and small town across Iowa. But now, we’re starting to lose those workers. They’re quitting at a higher rate than ever before because legislators took away their right to bargain.
It’s our belief that every worker has a right to a union – regardless of where you live and regardless of what you do. If you dedicate your life to serving the public – you deserve a voice on the job and you deserve a union. Whether you live in Des Moines or a rural community far from the closest interstate or airport – our public employees deserve respect and they deserve a union.
We’re putting elected officials on notice – if you tried to bust our union in the last 5 years – you’re on our list. If you’ve been elected to office and you think it’s your right to deny workers a union – you’re on our radar. We will be reaching out to local elected officials in the coming months and asking them to restore union rights – and if they don’t, we will picket, we will protest, we will stand up, and sit in if we have to – because public sector union busters are no longer going to get a free pass.
This is where you come in. We’ll be calling on Local 238 members and our friends to join this effort, stand up and fight back. We’ll be asking you to join our rallies, join our pickets, join our press conferences and join our protests. The attack on public servants has affected every city and small town across Iowa and it’s time to organize and fight back. Join us as we remind our local elected officials that every worker deserves a union. Stay tuned and get involved.