Governor Chet Culver’s still not saying whether he’ll sign or veto a controversial, union-backed bill. But after weeks of private discussions, Culver says there is no counter proposal that would make the bill more palatable to critics that would, in turn, be acceptable to unions.
The bill expands the topics to be covered during union negotiations involving government workers and it was approved in the Iowa House and Senate solely with the votes of Democrats. Marcia Nichols is a spokeswoman for AFSCME, the union that represents many state and local government workers. "This is a great bill for working folks. It’s a great bill for labor-management relations," Nichols asys. "Finally, front-line workers are going to be able to come to the table with their bosses and talk about changes to their jobs or the services they provide and frankly I think taxpayers will be happy with the end result of it because I think, potentially, it could save them money."
House Republican Leader Christopher Rants is among those who argue the change will put a bigger burden on taxpayers and he’s urging Democrat Chet Culver to veto the bill. "This is not something that Governor Culver ran on. Iowans are overwhelmingly opposed to it. I think it would be a serious political mistake for him to sign it," Rants says. "He’s got to make a decision: is he going to side with the vast majority of Iowans and local elected officials or is this about political payback to the unions?"
Many local elected officials have contacted Culver to make the same argument Rants is making. According to the governor, either he or a member of his staff have been involved in 30 private meetings on this matter in the past few weeks.
Nichols says Culver is getting a lot of lobbying from her union members, too. "Our members are public members and they’re going to see the governor and I’m sure they’re going to continue to lobby and ask him to sign the bill," Nichols says.
Legislators intend to send the bill to Culver’s desk when they adjourn the 2008 session, perhaps as early as Friday. Culver would then have 30 days to decide to sign or veto it. If Culver takes no action, the bill becomes law anyway.
House Republican Leader Rants says it’s hard to predict what Culver will do. "It is, perhaps, the biggest decision he’s faced so far," Rants says.