Democrats in the Iowa Senate have rejected Governor Chet Culver’s request for a "pause" that’d allow for longer review of a labor bill and instead passed the measure tonight shortly before 6:30. Republicans staged a long battle to stall the final vote.
Senator Mark Zieman, a Republican from Postville, was among those who argued that property taxes will go up if the bill becomes law as teachers and other public employees negotiate a series of additional benefits. "This is an ill-thought-out bill, one that’s been pushed out through the cover of darkness," Zieman said during debate.
Senator Larry McKibben, a Republican from Marshalltown, said Iowans will revolt if the bill becomes law. "You go all the way back to the Boston Tea Party and our citizens got redress enacted when they were taxed without representation," McKibben said. "This is the Boston Tea Party revisited."
Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, said the cost to taxpayers would be "staggering." "I’ve got numerous letters here from the City of Urbandale that I represent, the…seven school districts that I represent," Zaun said. "This is all going to have major implications for this big union pay off."
Senator Dave Mulder, a Republican from Sioux Center, said he was saddened because the debate was so partisan. "This is not a perfect bill. It is not," Mulder said. "…There’s probably some good stuff in here that we should have, but not all of it."
But Senator Dick Dearden, a Democrat from Des Moines, rejected the idea that the bill was flawed or even controversial. "I think it’s, really, it’s time to stand up for teachers and other public workers and vote yes on this bill," Dearden said to close debate.
The bill expands the subjects that may be discussed during negotiations between management and unions that represent state and local government workers, including teachers and other public school employees. Senator Mike Connolly, a Democrat from Dubuque, said arguments against the proposal were "pretty weak."
"These people that continue this undertow of antiworker, antilabor stuff in Iowa has got to stop," Connolly said. "All ships have got to rise in Iowa and this will be the start of that."
Senator Bob Dvorsky, a Democrat from Iowa City, said Republicans had repeatedly "maligned" union workers. "We have an opportunity to give public employees of this state a little dignity and a little respect," Dvorsky said. "That’s all this bill really does, (gives union workers) their opportunity to put everything on the table and bargain collectively."
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, also defended union workers. "And I believe in state workers and I believe they can put some ideas in the process that will make this state more efficient, that will help save taxpayers’ dollars," "And I’m tired of hearing all day about how state workers are going to put a stranglehold on our state when they love this state as much as anybody."
In a written statement issued midday Monday, Governor Culver asked senators to "pause" and allow time for more public scrutiny of the proposal. Over six hours later, 27 Democrats in the senate voted against the governor’s wishes and passed the bill, which will land on Culver’s desk for his signature or veto.