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Collective bargaining and a visit from Linn-Mar students
by Liz Mathis State Senator · February 23rd, 2017

There were two things of interest at the State Capitol last week. One was the result of the debate over wages and benefits for your children's teachers, local police and firefighters and even people who keep your streets plowed. The second event involved some committed Linn-Mar students and their school counselor who is helping channel their grief into good.

As I wrote last week, the Republican majority wanted to throw out collective bargaining for 180,000 Iowa public service employees. Collective bargaining has been in existence for more than 40 years and signed by Governor Robert Ray to prevent statewide strikes and bring harmony to wage and benefit negotiations.

Now SF213 will eliminate the ability of public employees to bargain for anything but their base wage. Increases will need to stay within the range of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In Linn County alone there are 2,400 Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) members and 1,769 American Federation of State County and Municipal Employee (AFSCME) members.

The GOP says these changes will give local government more flexibility, but local government is telling us they already have that. According to the Des Moines Register, and at the time of this writing, more than half the school districts, including Cedar Rapids and Linn Mar, signed contract agreements to lock in wages and benefits for their teachers before this piece of legislation passes and becomes effective immediately upon the Governor's signature.

There was another issue discussed at the Capitol this week; texting and driving. Several weeks ago I met with a group of Linn-Mar students and their counselor, Lisa Mooney. The group was devastated by the death of a classmate and her sister; their car had been rear-ended by a driver who officials say was texting and driving.

The students wanted to do something to change the texting and driving laws and joined me at a statewide media conference at the Capitol. They are advocating for bills that will either make texting and driving a primary offense or prohibit phone use, unless it's a hands-free device.

I was so very proud of their testimony and empathy. And Lisa is a remarkable counselor to understand their needs for closure. We look forward to see what this talented group does next.

As always, you can email me at
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