Our 4,000 members at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC) voted 2,828 to 38 to keep their union voice for quality care. That’s a 98.7 percent yes vote! Soon, UIHC members will be going into negotiations for a new contract, and the amazing results from the October 13-27 recertification election send us to the table with unprecedented strength.
Local 199 members in our school units also notched some remarkable victories in their recertification elections. Custodians in our Dubuque Schools chapter voted 68 to 2 to recertify their union; and custodians in Central DeWitt and bus drivers in Maquoketa voted unanimously to stay union strong.
While our members at UIHC were voting, another 4,600 staff in AFSCME at UIHC and the University of Iowa (UI) as well as 1,800 UI graduate employees in COGS also voted overwhelmingly to keep their unions. (See coverage of our victory at the Daily Iowan, KCRG and KWWL.)
Like us, the AFSCME and COGS members are public employees. To keep our unions, we all had to vote in the state-mandate recertification elections, which were established in 2017 by an anti-worker state law.
The law forces public service workers to clear a very high bar to keep our unions. Winning a majority of votes in an election isn’t enough to ensure victory. A majority of ALL employees at a workplace must vote yes to keep their union. Workers who don’t vote are effectively counted as no votes. Despite the unfair election rules, Iowa’s public employees have voted overwhelmingly to recertify their unions in the elections held since 2017.
The controversial 2017 law also gives state and local agencies the power to tear up existing union contracts and attack the rights of union workers. The Iowa Regents, who oversee both UI and UIHC, used the 2017 law to gut the contracts of the workers in all three unions.
We held a joint press conference with AFSCME and COGS on October 27, the day our election results were released, and we talked about the failure of the Regents’ low-road bargaining and explained how high-road contract talks would lead to better outcomes for public employees and the Iowans we serve.
We’ve also worked together with AFSCME and COGS to combat the Covid-19 crisis. In early October, SEIU and AFSCME members at UIHC issued a joint statement [[LINK TO NEWLY CREATED RELEASE THAT’S HERE AT OLD WEBSITE]] calling on Iowa’s elected leaders to institute safety measures to stem the state’s record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations. (The statement prompted powerful coverage by KCRG, KGAN, the Gazette and the Press-Citizen.) In August, UI graduate employees and UIHC healthcare workers joined together to protest the Iowa Regents’ failure to put forth a plan to safely reopen the university.
Now that our unions have forged these links fighting the pandemic and winning our elections, we’re gearing up to coordinate our negotiations with the Regents as well. Together in our union, and together across all three unions, we’re ready to restore the full and fair contracts that all workers deserve.