SF213 – Prepared remarks by Sen. Amanda Ragan of Mason City

Iowa Senate News Release
For immediate release: February 14, 2017

When I first read the bill before us — which rewrites Chapter 20 of the Iowa Code — I was dismayed by what I saw.  That emotion is still with me and will be for a long time.

There is a valued injunction which definitely applies here:  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Chapter 20 is NOT broken.

For 43 years, it has artfully guided public employee relations throughout our state.  City, county, and state management leaders and their workers were able to bargain honorably.

More important, the public was well-served by the decisions which insured public employees and government officials were treated with respect.  Additionally, the jobs, many of which are hazardous, were done professionally by dedicated workers.

The bill before us today is a disaster.

It shreds the protections afforded to workers and to management.  The bill is a statement that devalues public employees, and devalues the work they perform for all our citizens.

I must concede those who authored this bill knew what they were doing.

They knew who it would negatively impact.

They knew how it would make service as a public employee in Iowa harder and more difficult.

They knew they were denigrating lives and work ethics across the state, and, stunningly, they seem not to care.

What they didn’t know — or care to know — was the importance of the jobs they were impacting, or the people, their constituents, who do those jobs.  This legislation was written, and will be enacted, by people who know nothing of the lives they are throwing into chaos.

I will ask any advocate for this bill – – Do you have any knowledge of the people you are marginalizing and dishonoring with this bill?  Do you know them?  Have you talked to them?  Are they not neighbors of yours? And have you read their emails to you?

They tell the story of families who have invested in their jobs, their families and their communities.

I would like to know how you plan to convince your local public servants this is being done for their own good.  We hear over and over about jobs.  People want good jobs, high-skilled jobs, well-paying jobs.  This bill destroys that dream for 185,000 hard-working Iowans.

Let us at least be up front – – this bill has nothing to do with making working conditions better for public employees.

This bill has nothing to do with preserving the quality of services we enjoy.

This bill has nothing to do with preserving a pathway to the middle class for others.

This bill has everything to do with hurting and disrespecting people you don’t like or care to deal with – – Iowa public employees!

Please at least be honest about the intentions of this bill.  It is designed to cut and gut.  This bill does not help people; it hurts people.  It makes a mockery of the phrase that “Iowa is a great place to live, work, and raise a family.”

In the spirit of strong Iowa values, I strongly urge a NO vote for this bill.