Effort seeks to elevate ‘right to work’
Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013 7:00 am
Iowa’s “right-to-work” law has been on the books for more than 60 years.
But on Wednesday a western Iowa legislator introduced a resolution to put it in the state constitution.
Rep. Greg Forristall, R-Macedonia, said the measure, House Joint Resolution 1, could be voted on by the State House of Representatives as soon as late next week.
“The constitution is a better safeguard for those individual rights than a simple law that can be overturned by a majority of any particular legislature,” Forristall said in a telephone interview.
Such laws prohibit a company and a union from signing contracts that require affected workers to be union members. “Right to work” supporters argue that workers should have the right to decide whether to join a union at their workplace.
Opponents say such laws allow those who decide not to join a union to get the benefits a union negotiates with an employer without paying union dues. Since a union needs those dues to operate, such “right to work” efforts serve to weaken unions and strengthen management, they say.
The resolution has 53 sponsors — every Republican member of the Iowa House — meaning it is almost certain to pass the 100-member body.
Passing the Democratic-controlled Senate is another matter. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, predicted that the chairman of whatever committee it gets assigned to would not let it go anywhere.
The measure would have to be passed by two consecutive general assemblies before going to a public vote, which Forristall predicted would not happen until at least 2016.
Forristall sponsored the resolution as the chairman of the House Labor Committee. He said putting the measure in the state constitution is important because of efforts in recent years to weaken Iowa law.
Iowa’s law dates to 1947. Such a law is already established in the Nebraska Constitution.