Many north Iowa public employees, teachers and officials are watching closely as Iowa’s largest state employees union filed a lawsuit challenging a new law that eliminates most collective bargaining rights for public workers.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Iowa Council 61 filed the lawsuit Monday in Polk County District Court. It seeks an order halting immediate enforcement of the changes.
Govenor Terry Branstad on Friday signed the law prohibiting public sector unions from negotiating issues such as health insurance and supplemental pay. It exempts certain public safety employees, such as law enforcement officers and firefighters, from some negotiating provisions.
The lawsuit claims the law establishes two classes of public employee bargaining units, and the designation violates language in the state constitution that ensures equality to citizens.
Branstad has defended allowing a lobbyist to attend a private bill signing of the state’s new collective bargaining law.
Branstad told reporters Monday that Drew Klein of Americans for Prosperity witnessed the Friday signing because the lobbyist asked. Members of the press inquired about the event and were told it was private.
Americans for Prosperity is a national organization that donates to conservative causes often backed by Republicans. Klein is the group’s Iowa director and registered for the legislation, which eliminates most collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.
Klein posted a photo on Twitter of himself and Branstad at the signing. Several Democrats criticized the photo.
Branstad defended the media’s exclusion from the signing by saying he’s accessible through events like weekly press conferences.