IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A state board has ruled that the Iowa Board of Regents didn’t negotiate in good faith with unions from two public universities because it delayed negotiations until the passage of a law limiting public employee bargaining rights.
The Public Employment Relations Board ruled last week that the regents deliberately delayed holding meetings starting in mid-December 2016 with the Campaign to Organize Graduate Students at the University of Iowa and United Faculty at the University of Northern Iowa while it waited for lawmakers to approve limits on public-sector union bargaining rights, according to the Iowa City Press-Citizen .
Mike Galloway, the regents’ chief negotiator, was explicit in his explanation for delaying negotiations, telling both unions in separate emails on Jan. 31, 2017, that he’d been told not to hold mediation meetings before Feb. 20. The email noted changes in a chapter of state law that governs public-sector unions that were supported by Republicans holding a majority in the state Legislature.
“To provide a little more clarity, my client has informed me that I cannot agree to anything until the introduction and subsequent passage of the reforms to Chapter 20,” Galloway wrote in the emails.
Soon after receiving Galloway’s email, both unions filed complaints with the Public Employment Relations Board.
The board ordered the regents to not repeat such delaying tactics and to post flyers at the universities in the fall notifying employees that regents violated the law.
The June 12 ruling reverses earlier orders by a board administrative law judge. The Board of Regents has the right to appeal last week’s decision.
The changes approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by then-Gov. Terry Branstad altered Iowa’s 1974 collective bargaining law, which had let public sector unions negotiate over health insurance, extra pay and other conditions. Under the new rules, the number of mandatory subjects for negotiation for most unions was limited to only base wages.
The law continues to allow more expansive bargaining rights to unions representing police officers and state troopers.