Governor Chet Culver says he’s unsure whether legislators will pass a bill that requires non-union workers to pay a fee for union services. But if the bill clears the Democratically-controlled Iowa House and Senate, Iowa’s new Democratic governor says he’ll sign it into law.
"They are talking about amending the current law. Very few people are talking about repealing ‘Right to Work’ law," Culver says. Iowa’s so-called "Right to Work" law forbids forced union membership in workplaces where unions have organized. Culver says he is not demanding that legislators pass the proposed bill, which has been labeled "Fair Share."
But if lawmakers do pass it, he’ll sign it into law. "This is a big issue for a lot of hard-working folks across the state," Culver says. "I expect the legislature will take that up in the next week or two and it could be on my desk in that period of time." Culver points to his own background as a member of the Des Moines teachers union as one of the reasons he backs the move.
"All’s people are saying is that if a teacher in the Des Moines Public Schools gets fired, and they file a grievance…the current law says the union must represent them, even though they’re not part of the union," Culver says. "In many cases, the union gets their job back for them and they get back in the classroom. Fair share would require them to pay for that service."
But business groups oppose the move, saying it will set back the state’s job creation efforts. Culver’s response to those critics is to say Democrats aren’t talking about forced union membership, just payment for union services extended to non-union workers. Culver contends Iowa Democrats ran on a platform of sticking up for working Iowans and they’ll face no repercussions in the next election if they enact the change. Others who oppose the move predict it will be a huge issue in the 2008 election.
Culver made his comments this morning during taping of an Iowa Public Television program which airs this evening at 7:30.