The Iowa House is heading toward a final vote this afternoon on a controversial labor bill backed by Republicans. The bill would no longer allow public workers in Iowa to bargain over how layoff plans are implemented in the workplace.
Republicans are also seeking changes so union workers in all levels of government in Iowa will be required to pay more for their health insurance. Representative Todd Taylor, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, accused Republicans of engaging in “union busting.”
“This bill itself, House File 525, takes away rights that were established and that work in a fair process,” Taylor said earlier this morning.
“…The people back home are telling me: ‘This bill is bad. Why are you wasting your time on this? How come you’re not up there creating jobs?’
Late this morning, House Republicans stripped out provisions that would have denied public workers from negotiating over health care benefits during contract talks. Instead, the GOP voted to require public workers to pay $100 per month for their health care.
“You’re trying to do the old ‘divide and conquer,”” Taylor said. “You’re trying to rob Peter to pay Peter. You’re missing the point. This amendment develops a two-tiered system that is going to target people in the most negative way, mean-spirited way that is anti-American.”
At noon, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen (R-Hiawatha), interrupted debate with this announcement: “We have now arrived at the appointed time.” Democrats drafted more than 100 amendments to try to make changes in the Republican-crafted bill that makes changes in Iowa’s labor laws. House members began simply voting on each amendment that hadn’t been addressed by noon, with a final vote on the entire bill perhaps happening by one or two o’clock this afternoon.
Republicans have more than enough votes in the House to pass the bill. Democrats in the Senate say they have no intention of even considering it.
(This story was updated at 12:08 p.m.)