Saturday morning the Smokey Row Coffee House was abuzz as the audience asked the panel a series of questions concerning a collective bargaining bill known as Chapter 20.
The bill, which consists of 70 pages overall has caused quite the controversy amongst Mahaska County residents. Chapter 20 prohibits contract negotiations over insurance, leases of absence for political activities, supplemental pay, procedures for staff reductions, and advantages based off of seniority. The bill also limits mandatory topics for negotiation to base pay wages and that raises should not be more than three percent.
Just a few weeks ago the changes to Chapter 20 were brought up and within the next few weeks will be voted on. The panel, which consisted of Representatives Larry Sheets and Guy Vander Linden and State Senator Ken Rozenboom, insured that the bill was in fact not being rushed, as it has or is going through all the proper channels of the legislature. The coffee house audience had a different opinion on the timeline of this bill and expressed their high concerns and hopes that the representatives will do more research before passing such a bill.
One particular local resident had a large list of questions, concerns and clarifications that she wanted answers to. After going through some clarifications, she began her list: Why should the unions be removed?
In response, Senator Ken Rozenboom said, “Why should the taxpayers pay role system at the school or at the county or at the city or at the state be collecting dues for organizations that members chose to belong to. I am a member of a member organization. I write a check to them every year to maintain my membership.” Rozenboom than went on to say that he doesn’t believe that the taxpayers should have the cost of the paper work for unions. The Oskaloosa resident went on to ask whether or not the panel had campaigned on the idea of getting rid of collective bargaining. The panel refused to answer the question.
It was later questioned whether or not the bill was going to help the whole state of Iowa bring in more residence. He claimed that prospective residents of the state might look at a bill such as this, and not want to commit to being part of this kind of work industry. He said that current employees of the state are not going to want to remain in their current positions because there is nothing here for them.
“This bill is to annihilate the unions,” the resident said. “Iowa has never been a worker friendly state and is becoming far more hostile for the work force.”
Saturday morning saw a lot of back and forth comments between the panel and the audience. The fast moving bill will be a large topic amongst the state as developments are made over the next few weeks. Eggs and Issues will return to Smokey Row on February 25th with a special appearance from Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.
Story by Alyssa Kerry, No Coast Network