Collective Bargaining discussion gains momentum - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Collective Bargaining discussion gains momentum

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DES MOINES (KWWL) -

Lawmakers debate a contentious issue in Des Moines this week.

The Republican-dominated legislature moves on a bill many public employee unions say would gut the state's current law on collective bargaining.

Dozens of union workers and public employees flooded the capitol building in Des Moines to make their voices heard over the bill.

If passed, the bill would allow employers to fire public workers without cause, and it would stop unions from bargaining several benefits.

Firefighters from Cedar Falls are in Des Moines this week to make sure their voices are heard.

They're standing with other firefighters from across the state as they try and prevent the bill from moving forward, but supporters argue it would create more competitive wages for the best workers.

The Republican majority suggests something needs to be done to limit how public employees negotiate contracts.

Democrats say the top-down approach will do more harm than good, and it will take options away from hard-working Iowans.

In response to several strikes around the nation during the 70s, the Iowa Public Employment Relations Act was signed into law back in 1974 by a Republican governor.

The collective bargaining law, also known as Chapter 20, allows Iowa workers to negotiate wages and benefits with employers.

In Des Moines, GOP lawmakers argue collective bargaining provides overly generous benefits, and it eventually leads to overspending.

Democrats disagree, and they say Republicans are trying to divide and stop unions.

Under new rules, teacher unions would only be allowed to negotiate wages instead of benefits like health insurance and vacation time..

Public safety workers like police and firefighters would still be allowed to negotiate but under stricter union guidelines.

New legislation proposes to prohibit union money from being deducted from payroll checks while also demanding workers to re-certify with their union often.

Republicans say it will hold union members more accountable, but members argue it creates unnecessary work.

The proposed legislation also has language suggesting public workers could be fired without cause.

Concerned union members say they're worried this legislation could make its way to the governor's desk before Iowans have a chance to react.

Union members say the only reason GOP members don't repeal Chapter 20 is because the law prohibits employees from going on strike.

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