Groups representing businesses and unions in the state are unhappy with what happened — and what didn’t happen — in the 2010 Iowa legislative session. “The 2010 session really didn’t address labor issues,” says Jan Laue, secretary-treasurer of the Iowa Federation of Labor. “…I know that our members are very angry and very disappointed.” 

Unions had pushed legislators to approve four bills that would have done a variety of things, like expand the subjects which can be part of collective bargaining talks and another proposal to charge non-union workers a fee for services they get from the union at their workplace. 

Business groups were adamantly opposed to those proposals. John Gilliland, a senior vice president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, finds another fault with the 2010 legislature.

“When you think about the fact that we have 110,000 Iowans out of work, you would think that we would want to have a more aggressive attitude toward improving our business climate,” Gilliland says, “and, disappointingly, that really wasn’t the case this year.”

Business groups fought a number of proposals, including a reduction in certain business tax credits. The Association of Business and Industry ran radio ads against one of the union-backed proposals.  “We should be pleased that there wasn’t passage of any of the large labor bills that have been talked about in the last two or three years up here,” Gilliland says. “I think their items were too extreme for most Iowans and Iowans didn’t support them and the legislature, at the end of the day, didn’t support them either.” 

Laue argues the union-backed bills were misunderstood by the public.”These proposals that we’ve had for the last four years would just bring us on up on a level with most of the other states in the United States,” Laue says.  “There’s only six states — including Iowa — that don’t have any of these things.” 

According to Laue, union voters are disillusioned and it may be difficult to get them to actively support Democrats in the fall campaign.