Linda Upmeyer

The Iowa legislature is poised to pass a bill this week that will dramatically eliminate items that teachers and government workers in Iowa may bargain for during union contract negotiations. House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake suggests with Republicans holding a majority of seats in both the House and Senate now, this move should not be a surprise.

“This is about doing the right thing for Iowans,” Upmeyer said during a news conference last Thursday. “This is something we’ve worked on for a number of years. We’ve had bills on this topic before.”

Critics say under the bill, state and local government workers will only be able to negotiate over base wages during contract talks. Republican legislators who held forums in their districts this weekend were quizzed by large crowds upset about the bill. More than 100 people gathered in an Oskaloosa coffee shop to confront three local legislators. Suzy Card of Pella, a regional representative for the state teachers’ union, drew applause from the crowd when she questioned whether the GOP had “campaigned on getting rid of collective bargaining.”

“That’s a yes or no questions, guys,” Card said and a man in the crowd said loudly, “Pretty simple,” prompting the crowd to applaud.

More than 400 attended a forum in Ankeny. Jody Butler, a former education advisor to Governor Terry Branstad in the 1990s, asked the two Republican legislators there to “have a meaningful conversation” and make adjustments in the bill.

“Take your time instead of shoving this through,” Butler said.

On Sunday afternoon, there was a large rally at the statehouse in support of teachers and other government workers. A public hearing on the bill is scheduled this evening in a committee room at the statehouse.