SEIU members in five Iowa school districts voted overwhelmingly to keep their union voice in “recertification” elections that ran from Oct. 15 to 29. The school aides, custodians, bus drivers and other education workers voted 400 to 6 in favor of SEIU in the elections, which Iowa’s anti-union legislature and governor forced on all public employees in 2017.
“The recertification process was clearly designed to silence the voice of public employees,” said SEIU Local 199 President Cathy Glasson. “But this overwhelming yes vote shows that Iowa workers remain united in our unions, and if anything, we’ve made our union voice even stronger.”
The process requires public employees to vote to recertify their union every time they go into negotiations for a new contract. To keep the union, it’s not enough for a simple majority of voters to vote yes. A majority of all workers in each bargaining unit must vote yes — meaning workers who don’t vote get counted as a no.
By overcoming these rigged rules, SEIU members in the schools of Central Dewitt, Clinton, Dubuque, Iowa City and North Scott made a remarkable show of strength. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember just how unfair the process is.
Last year, 16 SEIU bargaining units held recertification elections, and in every one of them a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of the union. And yet, two of those units were dissolved. At Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, the nurses voted 74 to 27 to remain united in SEIU, but because an absolute majority of every RN in the unit didn’t vote yes, the RNs lost their union. In addition, the anti-union legislature wrote the 2017 recert law so that unions must pay for the elections that are designed to destroy them.
Now that Iowa workers have resoundingly rejected these attacks on our union voice for a second year in a row, it’s time to defeat the Republican lawmakers who keep launching the attacks. We need to elect a new legislature and a new governor who will overturn that 2017 law and level the playing field for workers. By changing the statehouse in Des Moines, working people can start moving forward again in Iowa.