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Iowa Unions Overwhelmingly Vote to Stay Union

Tens of thousands of Iowa union members beat back an attempt to decertify their union by voting to stay with their unions

Brian Young's picture
Oct 30, 2017

In the biggest blow to Iowa’s new collective bargaining laws, a stunning 88% of Iowa public employees voted to recertify their unions. This vote, the second and largest in the state, occurred after Iowa passed a new law requiring all public-sector unions to be recertified before they could negotiate a contract.

With all of the ballots counted, 28,448 people voted to stay with the union and only 624 people voted against.  Early results show that 436 of the 468 bargaining units have been recertified. Of the units that voted to decertify, most were extremely small units. The unions have also said that they will file appeals to some of the elections due to votes being ruled invalid. They have 10 days to appeal, so some of those units that decertified may change.

The Iowa law was extremely controversial because it did not require a local union to get 50% of all votes, but rather 50% of all members in the unit. This meant that anyone who didn’t vote was counted as a No. The unions in Iowa didn’t just need to get their most active members to vote, but they also had to organize and activate less active members. "There’s not one Republican in this state that could win an election under the rules they gave us," Danny Homan, president of AFSCME Iowa Council 61 said. "And we won 41 of 42, because we went out and worked our tails off." Homan also said that they will be appealing the one election they lost where two people voted yes, one vote was ruled invalid and one person didn’t vote. Across the state more people (4,043) failed to vote than voted no.

With 88% of public employees voting to stay with their union, and 90% voting yes in September, it is clear that Republicans attempt to bust Iowa unions has failed. Rather than cower in fear, as many Republicans hoped they would, unions like AFSCME and Iowa State Education Association, held organizing meetings at workplaces, schools and even around members dining room tables to talk about the importance of sticking with the union. This was coupled with thousands of calls to members reminding them to get their ballots in. Instead of destroying them, it fueled these local unions to get out, organize their members and become stronger. 


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