The top Democrat in the Iowa House says there is no “secret deal” with the two state worker labor unions who’ve agreed to pay and benefit concessions. Some Republicans charge Democrats have promised to pass bills long-sought by union leaders. House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, says that’s not the case.
“There isn’t such an agreement,” Murphy says. “…There is no quid pro quo. There is not.” Murphy does praise the members of the two state worker unions who have accepted pay reductions in order to avoid layoffs. “They did the same thing that every family is doing in this state. They made tought decisions. I know a lot of them are not happy about it,” Murphy says.
“But they decided that it was more important for them to make sure the state could function in a safe manner and at the same time keep more people at work which I think helps the economy, so I think they really deserve a lot of credit.” However, Murphy says a labor bill that failed — by one vote — to pass the Iowa House last spring may be on the debate agenda in 2010, along with four other bills that organized labor has sought.
“I think it’s a possibility, if we can pass any of the major labor bills. We passed collective bargaining two years ago. That was vetoed by the governor,” Murphy says. “If we have 51 votes for any of those bills, we will take them up and pass them.” The collective bargaining bill Murphy mentioned would have expanded the subjects union workers can bring up during the bargaining process.
The bill that failed to pass the House by one vote would have required all workers employed on construction projects that’re financed by government funds to be paid the “prevailing wage” in that county. “Last year the reason the prevailing wage bill was such a big issue was you had the City of Cedar Rapids where you had large chunks of that town that had flooded and we were doing the I-JOBS program and we were going to be handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to communities and it gets into this whole issue of making sure that you reward hard work with good pay and benefits,” Murphy says.
Murphy made his comments this morning during taping of the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press.”