Last year, the Iowa legislature made significant changes to Iowa Code Chapter 20, the Public Employment Relations Act. One of the most significant is the scope of bargaining for certain public sector employees.
For bargaining units with less than 30% public safety employees, the only mandatory topic of bargaining is “base wages and other matters mutually agreed on.” “Public Safety Employees” are specifically defined by Sec. 20.3, and generally include sheriff’s deputies, marshalls and police officers, state patrol members, conservation officers, certain DOT peace officers, and fire fighters.
All retirement systems, dues checkoffs and other payroll deductions for political activities are excluded from the scope of negotiations for all public employers and employees.
For a bargaining unit that does not have at least 30% public safety employees, insurance, leaves of absence for political activities, supplemental pay, transfer procedures, evaluation procedures, procedures for staff reduction, and subcontracting public services are also excluded from the scope of negotiations.
The parties may go to arbitration over base wages. The maximum base wage increase that the arbitrator may award is a 3% one-year wage increase.
Employers can no longer withhold union dues from an employee’s paycheck. Iowa Code Section 20.9 prohibits negotiations on dues checkoffs.
Handling the changes
In light of the changes in the law, employers should contact their labor attorney with questions as they determine how to address the contract and negotiations.
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