On Labor Day while we recognize and honor the contributions of workers to our state and national economies, I also believe it is appropriate to celebrate the fact that Iowa is a right-to-work state.
Iowa is one of 27 right-to-work states in our nation.
In Iowa, you have the right to join a labor union or not, and your employment is not impacted either way.
Iowa’s original right-to-work law was enacted in 1948, but then recodified in 1977. Iowa’s Right-to-Work law is found in Iowa Code Chapter 731, it protects Iowa’s workers in five ways.
First, Iowans have the right to join a labor union or not join one:
“It is declared to be the policy of the state of Iowa that no person within its boundaries shall be deprived of the right to work at his chosen occupation for any employer because of membership in, affiliation with, withdrawal or expulsion from, or refusal to join, any labor union, organization, or association, and any contract which contravenes this policy is illegal and void,” (Iowa Code 731.1).
Second, the refusal of employment based on one’s participation in a labor union is prohibited:
“It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association or corporation to refuse or deny employment to any person because of membership in, or affiliation with, or resignation or withdrawal from, a labor union, organization or association, or because of refusal to join or affiliate with a labor union, organization or association,” (Iowa Code 731.2).
Third, it’s unlawful for contracts to require union labor:
“It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association, corporation or labor organization to enter into any understanding, contract, or agreement, whether written or oral, to exclude from employment members of a labor union, organization or association, or persons who do not belong to, or who refuse to join, a labor union, organization or association, or because of resignation or withdrawal therefrom,” (Iowa Code 731.3).
Fourth, it is unlawful to require union dues as a condition of employment:
“It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association, labor organization or corporation, or political subdivision, either directly or indirectly, or in any manner or by any means as a prerequisite to or a condition of employment to require any person to pay dues, charges, fees, contributions, fines or assessments to any labor union, labor association or labor organization,” (Iowa Code 731.4).
Fifth, deducting union dues from pay is unlawful:
“It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, association, labor organization or corporation to deduct labor organization dues, charges, fees, contributions, fines or assessments from an employee’s earnings, wages or compensation, unless the employer has first been presented with an individual written order therefor signed by the employee, which written order shall be terminable at any time by the employee giving at least thirty days’ written notice of such termination to the employer,” (Iowa Code 731.5).
In states where there is forced unionism, employees are either forced to join a union or forced to pay union dues. Labor unions have contributed much to our nation, but no one should be forced to join and no employee should be penalized for being a member. We have a basic freedom of association and Iowa’s right-to-work law protects that right.
That is something to celebrate.