Democrats who hold leadership positions in the Iowa Legislature say it is unlikely the state’s “Right to Work” law which forbids forced union membership will be repealed. But two key Democratic leaders at the statehouse suggest non-union workers may lose some of the benefits their union co-workers receive through contract negotiations.

House Majority Leader-Elect Kevin McCarthy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says what unions object to is giving non-union workers the same benefits that labor leaders negotiate for union members. “I’m a member, as a prosecutor for the Polk County Attorney’s office, of AFSCME Local 1868. Our union negotiates and therefore we receive certain benefits,” McCarthy says. “There are individuals, then, in the office who are not members of the union, not paying dues to the union, who receive those benefits. Is that fair?”

Once a union gets enough votes to organize at a workplace and negotiate contracts with management for workers’ pay and benefits, Iowa’s “Right to Work” law says workers cannot be forced to join that union and goes on to guarantee that the benefits negotiated by the union must be extended to all workers, not just union members.

House Speaker-Elect Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, says there is an inherent unfairness in that. “I don’t get to go to the ‘Y’ and pay a membership and you get to go free,” Murphy says. “…If I have to pay my dues to go to the ‘Y’ and you get in free, everybody’s going to want to know why.” The two men made their comments on Iowa Public Television.