Iowa lawmakers side with the Kochs and ALEC, vote to silence educators, public workers

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by Félix Pérez

UPDATE: This afternoon (Thursday, 2/16) Iowa’s Republican Senate and House majority sided with the deep-pocketed Koch brothers and ALEC, voting to pass a bill that strips educators, nurses, firefighters and other public service workers of their right to negotiate collectively for better learning environments for students, better working conditions and the ability to earn a living that supports their families.

The vote came despite widespread opposition. More than a thousand Iowans rallied on the state Capitol grounds on Monday to protest the bill and several hundred testified and packed legislative debate sessions.

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Like the no-holds-barred assault on worker rights by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2011, the Iowa bill was not sought by the state’s residents, nor did legislators campaign on the promise to go after the workplace rights of teachers and others. Instead, the impetus for the sweeping attack on worker rights is the Koch brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity. ALEC, which curries favor with state lawmakers by providing meals, trips and other junkets and then sends them home with bill templates they’ve agreed to push through their state legislatures, is controlled and financed by the Koch brothers and other corporate sponsors. Americans for Prosperity has mailed waves of tens of thousands of postcards to Iowa voters going after public service employees.

Cedar Rapids teacher Tammy Wawro said of the bill, “This isn’t union-busting. (This bill) goes further. It’s profession-busting.” Wawro, president of the Iowa State Education Association, continued, ”(Iowa legislators) have carved out the heart of what is important and vital to our profession and our ability to have a voice in the direction of our work environment.” ISEA represents 34,000 teachers and educators.

Rick Smith, with the Iowa Starting Line news site, made clear the connection between ALEC and the Republicans pushing the bill. He wrote:

Iowa Republicans’ goal to silence labor’s voice by destroying collective bargaining is delivering to their corporate masters exactly the agenda they bought and paid for through their ALEC funders. Iowa teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, health care workers and many public sector employees are the victims of the Republicans’ nasty ALEC generated assaults on their rights.

Stand with Iowa educators and other public service workers by sharing this graphic on Facebook.

Iowa’s largest circulation newspaper, The Des Moines Register, wrote a stinging editorial titled “GOP to Iowans: Shut up while we bust unions.” It reads, Republican legislators “want everyone to shut up and leave them alone so they can ram through a bill to essentially neuter public-sector unions and strip an estimated 184,000 Iowans of rights to negotiate working conditions and job benefits. Legislators don’t seem remotely interested in the real-world implications of what happens when their bill becomes law.”

At issue are identical 68-page bills in the Senate and House — House File 291 and Senate File 213 — that teachers and other working people say is an attack on Iowa workers and families. The byproduct of the rushed legislation, they assert, will be to make it harder and harder for Iowa workers to support their families and come together to negotiate the terms of their work.

The Iowa legislation is the latest entry among anti-worker bills that have surfaced in various states this year. For example:

Reader Comments

  1. What do we have to fear when rich white guys are running the country? I was a teacher for 35 years. I do not know how they do it now.

  2. Koch brothers and other billionaire individuals who run corporations are out to eliminate unions. Workers, let’s be diligent and resist. There will be no more middle class if this continues.

  3. Sad, Bad Day In Iowa (haiku quartet) 1. “Republicans don’t – hear their constituents; they – hear the Koch brothers”, 2. “Nobody but the – Koch brothers wanted to bust – Iowa’s unions”, 3. “Patrick Henry would – be appalled at how easy – it is to buy votes”, 4. “Representative – democracy gets destroyed – by groups like ALEC”

  4. If you think teaching is such an easy career you obiviously haven’t ever taught! it’s hardly an 8 hour day. The school parking lots are full at least an hour before school and usually full at least an hour after school! With all the accountability requirements placed upon teachers it’s a wonder that anyone would go into education! I’ve got 23 years in as a Special Ed teacher and I have never felt so unappreciated through the legislation Gov. Walker passed and his denying teachers the right to collective bargaining! He has it out for teachers because he got caught cheating while he was a student so it’s been revenge ever since!

  5. A Republican who is very conservative said the following,” If teachers who consists mainly of women would work for minimum wage with no benefits our public schools would be the greatest educational system in the world”
    He added any man who teaches for a living needs to get a real job. I wish he represented a minority but the “trumpers” really believe this.

    1. I would be very interested to know WHO said this and when and where. This is just the sort of thing to post and tell people and get them motivated to DO something. Please let me know if you can site the source.

    2. well, isn’t that what we have now almost?
      a bunch of women, willing to work at a job that can’t provide for a family. …BUT defended by unions! these unions aren’t for education, they are FOR YOUR DUES!!!
      as a man who is ACTIVLY looking for that real job (my wife WAS at home) because I can’t support my family anymore!
      lets raise that minimum wage our to $20 bucks an hour, education in our state now has to come up with another 11 MILLION just to keep those -women-on-minimum-wage!-of $10.25/hr!!!! come the reset of that minimum wage hike, MY family will qualify for food stamps! just a few years ago, I was one child away from the free lunch for my kids!
      to our unions, were you in support of lowering MY relative (less-than-the-cost-of-living) wage????

  6. I know what it is like to teach in a state that has no union. The principal is GOD. She has the last say and can “let go” a teacher she does not like even though that teacher had made all satisfactory or above, on all evaluations. This is now what these right to work states are heading for. No one to speak up for you, no one to be on your side during a dispute. No one to represent you to the government. You will be just a quiet voice crying into the uncaring, unhearing void of government that does not care about us the common people.
    It has been a long time coming but maybe more people will now call for term limits on all elected officials. When they avoid town halls, vote against what the majority of people in their district has told them they want, they no longer represent us. They represent special interest and who ever can give them the most perks. Thank you.

    1. and then they will wonder “why is there a teacher shortage”?…… in this day and age, with the conditions in “right to work” states, those that can move will and those that must stay will look for work in other positions. All of these attacks on public servants are aimed at ending public education and making employees true servants.

  7. America is becoming Germany of the 1930’s & 48% of us seem to not care until Trumps/Bannon Troops come into their family’s lives & do what the ss did. You will be NEXT!!

  8. The actions of billionaires like the Koch brothers, who attack police officers, fire fighters, nurses, teachers, etc. are, in reality, attacking the very middle class of America which they say they are trying to protect. Middle class America, regardless of party affiliation, must unite against this erosion of the American dream and stand up for the very heart of what makes this country unique. We must not let them fracture the middle class! Our focus must be on retaining and creating strong middle class jobs with an eye toward the future needs of America with opportunity for workers to change and grow as America changes over their lifetime.

    1. The GOP (Guardians Of Plutocracy) and the Corporations, Wall Street Investment Industry, and Billionaires they represent, won’t be satisfied until they’ve privatized every red cent of public capital and turned back the clock to the fiefdom of the Gilded Age. Your pensions, Social Security, public education, etc., etc., represent nothing more to these capitalists, run amok, than another shot in the arm for Wall Street gains to pad the ledgers of their investment portfolios.

  9. We really need to promote that phrase, RIGHT TO WORK FOR LESS. The Boeing employees in SC just voted to not form a union! I wonder what their pay and benefits are. I hope they’re goid, otherwise they just shot themselves in the foot.

  10. States can pass this “junk” because Koch et.al. took over MANY state legislators from 2008 to the present, including my state of Virginia. Sadly, the democratic organizations, DNC, DCCC, ETC. allowed this to happen. I have been so frustrated watching this happen in Virginia. When our congressional races come up, some unknown person becomes the democratic candidate. It appears no money or backing comes from the DNC or DCC. In state level elections the same thing is true. I used to be proud of my state because they usually voted for things that were best for the constituents. That is no longer true. The speaker of the house is a republican who is a member of ALEC. It is so sad.

  11. So it is time for Iowans to vote these people out of office. That is what I don’t understand. Why do voters keep voting these people back into office? Every state struggling has a Republican governor and legislature! You know what is said about doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results…

  12. Not only will this bill greatly decrease the quality of education in Iowa especially rural Iowa, it’s also going to impact every business in this state when it is put alongside the maximum wage and the right to no vaccinations bills. I’m already seen the effects the day the bill was passed. When checking out grocery stores in Ankeny, IA and retail stores in Des Moines the day this bill was passed, normally busy stores appeared to have about 40% of the normal amount of shoppers for a Thursday. Shoppers will be spending less due to either lower income or the possibly of lower future income and, I don’t know how others feel about, but if the vaccination bill passes & I certainly am not going to go any place that jeopardizes my health. I am up to date on my vaccinations for my protection and others & but we are susceptible to other diseases like shingles when exposed to chicken pox. When the livelihood of Iowans is being greatly impacted by these changes, we don’t need an epidemic too.

    As far as I am concerned, the majority in the Iowa Legislature, and Federal legislature are supporting their own agenda and those of ALEC, Americans for Prosperity and the Koch Bros. not their constituents and the American people. I thought politicians accepting gifts from special interest groups in return for passing special interest agendas was a crime; bribery of a public official?

    Can state and federal officials be impeached? After all, we hired them, we should be able to fire them. They ARE public employees and as of 7/1/17 when the collective bargaining bill becomes effective, we should be able to fire them with no just cause. That is what the majority of Iowa legislatures and ALEC wanted for other state employees.

    1. If the politicians in a state enact laws that prohibit workers from negotiating with their paying towns etc, why do people keep re-electing the same politicians? Does not make sense. Somebody must like what they are doing. Maybe its time for term limits for elected officials

      1. won’t help to limit terms… all it’s done in Michigan is train a whole bunch of lobbyists to work the system when they are term-limited out… and what is needed is for people to stop focusing on Washington and presidential elections only….but realize the yahoo who just got elected to the state capital job may be way less qualified than you think…and less encumbered with an understanding of the constitution and what he/she can and cannot do.
        And you are right whoever mentioned the Iowa schools will go down hill …because on top of all this you will be inundated with Corporations making big bucks with so-called public charter schools…where teachers have no say in policy, no union to defend them…and no benefits…. how on earth will they pay back their school debts? (which are also a part of this system…where colleges build more buildings with famous names like DeVos…who thinks because she kicked in money for this and that…that she is an education expert….!!) Watch out…Mc Schools are coming to your state too.

      2. The GOP (Guardians Of Plutocracy) have devised the best game in politics. They recite the Conservative Think Tank rhetoric as they well up with feigned tears over their “heart felt” pain for the poor tax payer and wish to alleviate the strain the BIG, BAD Government is placing on them.
        With one hand (the hand they wave in plain sight) they crusade using social issues including but not limited to conservative issues like Christian family values, gun rights, abortion, anti-LGBT, a veritable Norman Rockwell visage, etc. to gain decent folk’s ideological approval, and loyalty, a strategy that costs them nothing and gains them everything. Masters of the use of false narrative and disingenuous rhetoric (Google: The Integration of Theory and Practice by Free Congress Foundation http://www.theocracywatch.org/yurica_weyrich_manual.htm), the GOP has no equal when it comes to the use of propaganda to frighten, anger, enrage and ultimately motivate their base to action. They depend on the decent folk they target, not to look into the Bills they write and vote for in relative secrecy, as that would blow their cover.. Ultimately, as they are legislating unprecedented favor for the $MONEYED, SPECIAL INTERESTS$ that purchased them, they’re sticking it to those commoners they’ve mobilized to vote for them and against their middle class interest and in favor of their own demise.
        With the other hand (the hand you do not see) the GOP is making policy based on the continuation of the cruel hoax of Supply-side (trickle-down) Economics, while accepting $Hundreds of Millions in bribes, er lobbyist “gifts” from the beneficiary of these “gifts.” GOP policy almost always consists of tax breaks for the wealthy and Corporations (which consolidates wealth to the top and places the burden for the upkeep of the USA and her communities on the middle class to pick up the tab), the privatization of as much public capital as they possibly can to further enrich Wall Street and impoverish Main Street, tilt the electoral playing field with $uper PACs, thanks to Citizens United vs. the FEC, deregulate the Banks and Wall Street with the repeal of Glass-Steagall (1999), which led to the Economic meltdown of 2008, and further erosion of Dodd-Frank, a Glass-Steagall-lite, passed after the Great Recession to reduce Wall Street risk and protect consumers.
        The GOP is organized, connected, smart, well-funded and shameless in how they play the electorate. Meanwhile, the Dems have abandoned their populist message for the working class they championed just a generation ago in favor of identity politics. And the GOP is feasting on their lunch by exploiting a false populist message, beating Democrats at their own game.

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