The feud over a union-backed bill played out at a public hearing last night at the statehouse. Supporters say non-union employees should pay fees to the union at their worksite if the union negotiates wages and provides other services.
Sandy Doerring of Des Moines, a registered nurse at Broadlawns Hospital, belongs to a union. "As a nurse at Broadlawns, I think it will help create unity there, help promote patient care," Doerring says of the proposal to require non-union nurses to pay "fees" to the union.
The Service Employees International Union organized at Broadlawns three years ago, and on Tuesday the union concluded negotiations on a new contract. "It’s a fair contract for nurses at Broadlawns and I just want support from my co-workers," she says.
But opponents, like National Right to Work president Mike Mix, say paying fees to the union is akin to forced union membership. "All the rhetoric and propaganda around this issue boils down to a very simple concept: if you don’t pay fees and this law passes, you’re fired," Mix says.
Wade Jacobs of Evansdale, a nine-year employee of John Deere’s Waterloo Works, "hesitantly" joined the union when he first got his job, but has "had enough" of union concessions on pay and retirement benefits and quit paying union dues.
He opposes the bill that would force him to pay fees to the union. "This will definitely affect me directly. I will no longer have a choice to exercise my rights to not be a member of the union or be a member," Jacobs says.