February 22, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Cedar Rapids, IA – Public-sector unions in several Iowa cities are rushing to reach new contracts before the state enacts a law that would kill their ability to bargain over benefits.
In Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, teachers’ unions agreed to new contracts over the Feb. 10-12 weekend. Kim Miller, head of the Cedar Rapids Education Association, said the talks had skipped over some details because “it was more important to get this done and have this set for another year.” Some of the state’s larger counties also agreed to extend contracts late last year, after Republicans won control of both houses of the state legislature. Johnson County, which includes Iowa City, extended union contracts from 2019 to 2021 “because we feared this kind of thing happening,” county Supervisor Rod Sullivan told the Gazette. In Sioux City, the City Council voted Feb. 13 to extend the contract with AFSCME Local 212, which represents city workers from clerical assistants to electrical inspectors, through 2020. “We get to keep everything in our contract, grievance procedures, vacation, our sick leave… everything that the Republicans for the state of Iowa are trying to strip away in the collective bargaining law” Local 212 President Chris DeHarty told KCAU-TV. Read more