Iowa Supreme Court upholds legislative changes to Chapter 20

Local News

DES MOINES – By a 4-3 vote, the Iowa Supreme Court has upheld the legislative changes that were made by Republican lawmakers to Chapter 20.

A ruling was issued by the justices on Friday morning. In the ruling, the majority states that: “We conclude the 2017 amendments withstand the constitutional challenges. The plaintiffs concede there is no constitutional right to public-sector collective bargaining or payroll deductions. The parties agree the equal protection claims are reviewed under the rational basis test. The legislature could reasonably conclude that the goal of keeping labor peace with unions comprised of at least thirty percent public safety employees, and the greater risks faced by emergency first responders, justified the classification. We hold the 3 legislative classifications are not so overinclusive or underinclusive as to be unconstitutional under our highly deferential standard of review. We further hold the amendments do not violate constitutional rights of freedom of association. Public employees remain free to belong to the same unions. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s summary judgment.”

Senate Democratic leadership is disappointed by the court’s decision. 

“By taking away the rights of teachers, firefighters, nurses, correctional officers and other public servants, Republican politicians have done harm to all Iowa workers. Working Iowa men and women are the real victims of the assault by the Branstad/Reynolds Administration and Republican-controlled Legislature,” said Sen. Janet Petersen (D-Des Moines). “Chief Justice Cady got it right when he said the law stripping workers of their rights ‘offends our constitution.’ Senate Democrats continue to believe that all Iowa workers deserve respect, dignity and the right to bargain for health and safety protections. We will always stand side by side with ISEA, AFSMCE and other unions who continue to stand up for the rights of public employees across the state.”

The rewrite of Iowa’s collective bargaining law, known as Chapter 20, gained statewide and some national attention in 2017.

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