Teamsters protest at Iowa Capitol over bill on union certification

DES MOINES — The Teamsters have staged an hour-long protest outside the Iowa Capitol over a bill about certification votes for unions representing state and local government workers.

“We’re standing up, we’re fighting back, we’re united and this is just the beginning,” Teamsters Local 238 Secretary-Treasurer Jesse Case said during a news conference on the Capitol steps.

The Teamsters represent public sector workers who drive school buses and snow plows and work at water and sewage treatment plants. “The public sector bargaining law wasn’t broken in 2017 and they broke it and now they want to break it some more,” Case said. “Well, guess what? We’ve had enough and our members are not obligated to go above and beyond the call of duty while they’re under attack.”

The bill Case is criticizing would decertify union representation for public sector workers if their manager fails to send a list of local union members to the state. Republicans who back the bill say some managers haven’t been following that requirement and some recertification votes haven’t been held. Case said some public sector employees are being asked to be on-call outside of work hours — a violation of their union contracts.

“I’m telling you right now, the next time that there’s a union busting bill signed into law, people across this state will start feeling the affects of service,” Case said. “…People don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to push snow when they’re not being paid to be on call.”

As part of Wednesday’s protest, a convoy of vehicles drove around the Capitol in Des Moines, honking their horns for an hour. A plane flew over the Capitol with a banner that said “Kill Senator Dickey’s Union Busting Bill.” Senator Adrian Dickey of Packwood leads the committee that approved the bill that sparked today’s protest.

“We’re going to be rolling through Senator Dickey’s senate district soon and educating people and doing press conferences,” Case said. “If he wants to bust unions…he’s going to bust business. He’s going bust services provided to people in this state.”

A 2017 Iowa law requires union recertification votes before contract negotiations, which happen every couple of years.