Iowa’s law covering collective bargaining for public employees changed in 2017. This page highlights the most significant changes affecting UI employees.
Scope of bargaining
Chapter 20 of Iowa law identifies the topics on which public employee unions and employers may negotiate when bargaining a labor contract.
The scope of bargaining is defined by those topics the law states are mandatory (and may be resolved by arbitration); by those topics the law states are prohibited from collective bargaining; and by all other topics of terms and conditions of employment which are neither mandatory nor prohibited and are therefore considered permissive (that may be negotiated if both parties agree).
Under the new law, base wages is now the only mandatory subject of bargaining. The topics now prohibited by law include insurance, supplemental pay, transfer procedures, evaluation procedures, procedures for staff reduction, subcontracting public services, and payroll deduction for union dues or political action committees. These are in addition to the previous prohibition from negotiating retirement benefits.
Other topics remain permissive under the law, subject to the mutual agreement of the parties; neither party can require the negotiation of permissive topics.
Limitations on base wage arbitration
During contract negotiations, if the parties do not reach a mutual agreement on a mandatory subject of bargaining, the dispute goes to arbitration for final resolution. Under the new law the only mandatory subject of bargaining is base wages; therefore it is the only topic which may go to an arbitrator for final resolution.
The new law limits what an arbitrator can award regarding base wages when the parties fail to reach a mutual agreement. When the two parties cannot come to an agreement, the arbitrator may not award more than the lesser of 3% or a percentage equal to the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).The CPI in this context is defined as the twelve-month change in the Midwest Urban index, six months prior to the date of arbitration.
Timeline for changes
The new law does not affect bargaining agreements that were completed and ratified by both parties prior to the change in law. This means that the contracts with AFSCME, SEIU and UE Local 896/COGS that covered employment from July 1, 2015 to June 20, 2017 will remain in force through their expiration date.
It is important to note that the unions representing university employees currently negotiate their contracts with the Board of Regents or State of Iowa. Prohibited subjects of bargaining and permissive subjects no longer be addressed in future collective bargaining agreements will instead be addressed by university policy, Board of Regents Policy or state law.