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Teamsters vow to protest if new limits on public sector unions enacted

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February 12th, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – A leader in the Teamsters union is calling on members to prepare for action if the legislature passes a bill that could dissolve some union bargaining units that represent government employees. Jesse Case is secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 238, which represents workers in the private sector as well as state and local government employees, including school bus drivers and snow plow drivers. “We’re not going to let them burn down the house of labor without a fight,” Case said. “…Prepare for rolling strikes across the state of Iowa.” Public employees in Iowa are barred from striking. A statement on the local Teamsters union’s website does not mention strikes, but says there will be rallies, pickets, press conferences and protests against the G-O-P legislators who back the bill.

“Here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to take the fight to them,” Case said. “We’re going to take the fight to their town, to their county, to their farm, to their business.” In 2017, the legislature passed a law that requires public employees to vote before contract talks begin on whether they want union representation in negotiations. The bill would automatically end union membership for public sector workers if their employer fails to send a list of eligible voters to the state agency that oversees the recertification elections. The Iowa Public Employment Relations Board says 40 percent of government agencies failed to submit those lists in the past four years and Republican senators say they believe union members are pressuring their bosses to avoid recertification votes. Senate Democratic Leader Pam Jochum of Dubuque says it’s not the union members who failed to follow the law, but their managers.

Senate Minority Leader Pam Jochum (D=Dubuque) on Iowa Press set on Feb. 9, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Iowa PBS)

“That bill is a union busting bill,” Jochum says. “…It’s just wrong and it’s just the final nail to try to end collective bargaining for public workers.” Jochum supports the Teamsters’ call for protests and pickets if the bill passes. “It’s a call to action,” Jochum says. “If you believe in your right to collectively bargain in good faith for your wages, your benefits and your working conditions we need you and we need your voice now.” Jochum made her comments this weekend during an appearance on Iowa Press on Iowa P-B-S.