Matt Rothschild

Iowa Copies Walker, Kills Unions

Following his advice, state's GOP legislators end public union rights.

By - Apr 14th, 2017 12:37 pm
Protest in the Capitol. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

Protest in the Capitol. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

On Feb. 13, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker spoke via Skype with Republican legislators in Iowa and urged them to end collective bargaining rights for public employees, just as Walker did back in 2011. Don’t worry about the protests, he said, according to a report by Jessie Opoien of the Capital Times in Madison, WI.

Well, they took his advice. Iowa Republicans rolled back collective bargaining rights for public employees just a week later.

And on March 30, they hit workers again, this time actually lowering the minimum wage in four counties that had raised it. Now no county can have a minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.

That’s going to take a bite out of workers’ wages in Johnson County, where the minimum wage was already set at $10.10 an hour and was indexed to inflation. (Johnson County is where Iowa City is located.)

In Linn County, home of Cedar Rapids, the minimum wage just went up to $8.25 on Jan. 1 of this year, and was set to go up to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2018, and then again to $10.25 on Jan. 1, 2019.

In Wapello County, home of Ottumwa, the minimum wage went up to $8.20 on Jan. 1 of this year, and was set to go up to $9.15 on Jan.1, 2018, and then to $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2019.

In Lee County, the supervisors recently voted to raise the minimum to $8.20.

And in Polk County, home of Des Moines, the minimum wage was set to go up to $8.75 on April 1.

This year, for the first time in 19 years, Iowa has a Republican majority in both houses of the legislature.

Walker has advised such newly empowered Republicans to move fast with any big changes: “Do it early,” he said, according to Opoien.

Iowa Republicans also took a page from Walker’s predecessor in Wisconsin, former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, who signed legislation in 2005 banning local governments from having minimum wages higher than the one set by the state.

Matthew Rothschild is executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us