Tuesday, February 22, 2011

ISEA & LCEA HOTLINE Special Edition--Who's Next? US! 2/22/2011

THANKS TO ALL WHO ARE WEARING RED TODAY. Thanks to all who have signed the online petitions. We come to you with some breaking news. There will be a committee meeting today for House Bill 117 that was introduced Friday. The bill may be moving quickly and warrants all of our attention so that we can work with "pro-public education" allies.

from SWUU, ISEA and the Des Moines Register’s website--

On Friday, House Study Bill 117 (don't let the word "study" fool you; this means that it can move more quickly) was introduced. It HAS NOT passed. Public hearings are likely to occur next week. OUR voices--including YOURS--will be needed.
More information will follow in the next few days regarding HSB 117. We will be calling upon you to make contacts. For now, this is an informational piece to attempt to “keep you in the loop” about what’s happening in Des Moines. As you read through this, we’re sure you’ll see why there is cause for alarm. Following that information is some valuable information--the facts on public sector vs. private sector employees in Iowa.

Here are key provisions of House Study Bill 117:

VETO POWER: An arbitrator’s decision on state employees’ wages would no longer be final – either chamber of the Iowa Legislature or the governor could choose to reject it. (This applies to state workers only.)

HEALTH INSURANCE: Unions could no longer negotiate for changes to their health insurance plans. Government managers would solely decide contributions.

LAYOFFS: Unions would no longer have any say regarding layoffs. Currently, they can discuss preventing layoffs with alternatives such as unpaid furlough days, or, if layoffs are unavoidable, a union seniority system is used.

ABILITY TO PAY: Arbitrators would have to look at how a contract agreement would affect the budget, including whether taxes would need to be raised in order to pay for it.

NO PAST CONTRACTS: Arbitrators would no longer have to consider past contracts between a public employer and its employee unions. That means past wage freezes or benefit concessions would not be taken into consideration.

COMPARE MORE WAGES: Instead of considering only public-sector wages and benefits, arbitrators would look at comparable private-sector jobs before deciding what to award workers.

OUTSOURCING: Restrictions or limitations on outsourcing would be lifted.

MIDDLE GROUND: Arbitrators could set a compromise between management’s offer and the union’s offer. For example, if a school district offers a zero percent pay raise and the union 5 percent, the arbitrator could choose 2.5 percent. Right now, arbitrators can pick only one or the other.

“FREE AGENTS”: An employee could become a “free agent” and opt out of representation by the union. The union would go to the bargaining table for one group of workers, then individual free agents would each go to their bosses on their own. No state has such an arrangement.