Iowa Teachers Union Sues State Over Major Changes to Bargaining Rights

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa State Education Association is challenging the collective bargaining law passed earlier this year. The group claims the law doesn't treat all workers the same.

"We simply wish to be equal and to have our rights restored," Tammy Wawro, president of the ISEA.

Groups protested the bill at the Statehouse earlier this year. Tuesday morning the ISEA filed a lawsuit against the State of Iowa and the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board in district court in Polk County.

The suit challenges three main provisions of HF 291.

In a news release, the group says:

“One, the law creates two classes of public sector employees by creating an under inclusive category of ‘public safety’ employees who enjoy more bargaining rights than the rest; two the law prohibits an employer from allowing their employees to pay dues to an employee organization via payroll deduction, but allows payroll deduction from all other organizations and programs; and three, the law creates an undemocratic election system that counts votes based on population instead of number of votes cast.”

ISEA says it is taking on the fight to fix the unequal treatment for its more than 34,000 members.

AFSCME has also filed a lawsuit against the state over the collective bargaining law.

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds declined to talk specifics of the lawsuit, but she defended Republicans' actions to change the collective bargaining laws. "If it's getting ready to go before...if they're suing the government, I'm not going to weigh in on any of that," Reynolds told Channel 13, "But you know this was an antiquated law that's been in place for many years. It's modernizing the system."

Reynolds says the changes will give school districts more ability to negotiate with better-performing employees, rather than being required to provide mandated benefits for all workers. It's a similar argument Republican legislators made as they say the changes will save taxpayers money and give public employers more flexibility.