Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Trashing collective bargaining

Remember that rally earlier this month staged by union supporters at the Statehouse in Des Moines? Afterwards, they packed the Iowa House of Representatives for a two-hour public hearing. For a moment, it looked like a Wisconsin-style worker uprising was fomenting. Or, at least for a very, very brief moment. But just because there wasn't going to be an uprising didn't mean opponents were going to roll over and give up. When the House started debate on a  Republican-backed collective bargaining bill a week ago,  minority Democrats proposed a whopping 103 amendments. That tied up the bill in debate for the rest of the week. Finally, House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer cut off debate Friday with a noon vote, approving the bill along party lines. Now all the House needed to do was send the bill on to their colleagues in the Democratic-controlled Senate, which had no intention of considering the legislation. It headed to the Senate labor committee and was immediately declared dead. This was a foregone conclusion, making the House vote an empty political victory. Let's be clear, though, this was still a political victory. It can help Republicans as they campaign in the next election to take control of the Senate --- as well as Democrats who want to recapture control of the House. Politicians of either stripe could use the situation to motivate their bases so similar legislation would either become law or be stopped. One important point is that this bill really was nowhere near as sweeping as legislation approved and signed into law in Wisconsin. On the other hand, Republicans may view it as a first step heading in that direction. 

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