Labor & Business – All-Bill Summary 2017

All labor-related bills passed by the Legislature & signed into law for 2017. #ialegis #iagov #labor #unions #osha #workersrights

The following bills were passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor.

SF 32 – Hair samples in private-sector drug testing
SF 438 – Banning Project Labor Agreements
HF 291 – Gutting collective bargaining
HF 441 – Laundry occupations (House Commerce bill)
HF 533 – Disqualification for unemployment benefits
HF 529 – Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conformity
HF 542 – Second-year eligibility for unemployment benefits
HF 572 – WIOA federal conformity for state workforce board (House Eco. Growth bill)

SF 32 adds hair samples to the testing methods that may be used in private sector drug testing. Current law allows drug testing on samples of urine, saliva, breath and blood. The new law allows hair samples to be tested if standards have been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration; sets standards for individual privacy; and requires a sample be one-and-one-half inches or shorter. Employers may test hair of prospective employees only.
[4/5: 35-15 (Bertrand, Bisignano, Bolkcom, Boulton, Chapman, Danielson, Dotzler, Dvorsky, Horn, Jochum, D. Johnson, McCoy, Petersen, Quirmbach, Taylor “no”)]


SF 438 prohibits government entities (e.g., state, cities, counties, schools, community colleges) from requiring a potential bidder on a public improvement project to provide information that the bidder deems confidential or proprietary as a requirement for being a responsive, responsible bidder.

A government entity cannot ask for a safety record, tax compliance history, past bidding history or pending litigation. Currently, local governments ask for this type of information—what’s sometimes called a “quality assurance questionnaire.”

A new subchapter in 73A.25: Fair and Open Competition in Government Construction Act (prohibition on government entities from using Project Labor Agreements) bans government agencies from entering into Project Labor Agreements.

Public improvement means any building or construction work that is built, repaired, remodeled or demolished under the control of a government entity, and is paid for in whole or in part with funds from the government entity (including road construction). Public improvement does not include urban renewal demolition, low-rent housing projects, highway, bridge or culvert projects, city utility work done by its employees or work for a rural water district.

A violation of Code chapter 73A is a simple misdemeanor and is grounds for removal from office. Previously, it was punishable by confinement for no more than 30 days or a fine of at least $65 but not more than $625, or by both.
[3/9:26-21, party-line (D. Johnson voting “no” with Democrats)]


HF 291 guts public sector employee collective bargaining rights. Key aspects of the new law include:

  • An exemption for public safety employees (regarding the scope of negotiations) provided they are in a bargaining unit made up of 30 percent public safety employees. Public safety employees are now defined in Iowa Code Chapter 20.3.
    • A public safety employee is a sheriff’s regular deputy, a marshal or police officer, state patrol, narcotics enforcement, state fire marshal, criminal investigation, Department of Public Safety gaming enforcement officer, conservation officer or park rangers, permanent or full-time fire fighter or an Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Enforcement Officer. Corrections officers, University police and paramedics are not considered public safety officers.
    • The new law does not treat all public safety employees equally. Police officers in a bargaining unit made up of less than 30 percent public safety employees do not have the same bargaining rights as those in a unit made up of more than 30 percent public safety employees.
    • Public safety employees can no longer deduct dues and PAC contributions from paychecks.
    • Other topics subject to bargaining stay the same for public safety employees.
  • All other public workers can now negotiate for base wages only. If a contract goes to arbitration, the bargaining unit will receive a maximum 3-percent raise or a percentage equal to the increase in Consumer Price Index (CPI) for a 12-month period, whichever is less.
    • They are prohibited from negotiating insurance, leaves of absence, transfer procedures, evaluation procedures, staff reduction, membership dues and PAC contributions. These are illegal topics (i.e., not permissive topics). Even if an employer wants to negotiate with a bargaining group on these items, they cannot.
    • Grievance procedures, seniority, holidays, hours, vacations, shift differentials, health and safety were previously mandatory subjects of bargaining. They now are permissive subjects; both the employer and the employee organization must agree to negotiate permissive topics.
    • Employees covered by a bargaining unit cannot on their own negotiate illegal bargaining topics with their employer. This is prohibited.
  • The new law changes what can be considered in non-public safety employee arbitration.
    • The arbitrator must consider a wage comparison of public and private employees.
    • The arbitrator can no longer factor in the ability of the public employer to levy taxes. This applies to public safety and nonpublic safety.
    • The arbitrator cannot look at past collective bargaining agreements.
    • The arbitrator can consider the interests and welfare of the public, and a public employer’s ability to finance adjustments.
  • The new law makes it more difficult for a public employee union to stay certified.
    • It changes the threshold for a vote from 10 percent of employees in the unit to 30 percent of all bargaining unit employees.
    • All bargaining units now face Wisconsin-style re-certification. All employees in the bargaining unit are considered voters. Previously, the vote was decided by bargaining unit employees that show up for the election. Now, employees who don’t participate are “no” votes on certification.
    • A bargaining unit must recertify before the expiration of their contract.
    • All election costs for certification and re-certification are paid by the public employee organization.
  • Other noteworthy provisions:
    • The Governor has authority to veto statewide collective bargaining agreements following a gubernatorial election.
    • Transit employees will be considered public safety employees under if it is determined by the Iowa Department of Transportation through written confirmation from the U.S. Department of Labor that a public employer would lose federal funding if the transit employee is not covered under certain collective bargaining rights.
    • Any ongoing collective bargaining negotiations not complete when this bill was signed into law were void and must begin anew.

Division II: Iowa teachers

  • Prohibits all discussion of evaluation procedures.
  • Allows witnesses for the parties to be present in a private hearing, as well as the teacher’s representative. The board must keep a record of the private hearing, but they are no longer required to employ a shorthand reporter.
  • The school board and employee organization can no longer issue subpoenas for witnesses and files.
  • If a teacher does not file for a private hearing on their termination in a timely manner, the board may proceed with the termination and would no longer have to wait until May 31.
  • The school board must make a final decision on the termination. The decision is based solely on the evidence in the record and on matters officially noticed in the record. The adjudicator is removed from the grievance process in termination filings. If a teacher rejects the board decision, they can’t appeal to a neutral adjudicator. They must go to court.
  • The probationary time for teachers is expanded to a mandatory two years, and districts can remove probationary teachers without cause following their two years.
  • Supplemental pay is removed as a negotiated subject of bargaining. This could cause a shortage for after-school activities, which punishes teachers who spend time with kids in the subjects that make them want to go to school.
  • Just cause for termination and discipline is expanded beyond the professional code of ethics.
  • Teachers who participate in intensive assistance and, anytime in the future, fail to meet the applicable standards can be fired.

Division III: Personnel records and settlements

  • This division comes from the “secret settlements” and “hush money” scandals that plagued the Governor in 2014.
  • Any resignation in lieu of or termination or demotion of a public employee becomes public record.
  • Non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements are eliminated for personal settlement agreements and decisions for executive bonus pay must be made public record. No provision of collective bargaining can supersede this provision of the new law.
  • This could mean more lawsuits from people trying to clear their name.

Division IV: City civil service requirements

  • It is now permissive for nonpublic safety employees to bargain over seniority rights. A city council may extinguish seniority rights if not covered under a collective bargaining agreement. Firefighters and police officers will get seniority rights if they are part of the 30-percent or above bargaining unit.

Division V: Health insurance

  • Requires a public employer to provide health insurance to permanent, full-time, public employees. Public employers may offer health insurance to part-time employees.
  • Permits a 30-day enrollment and change period for health insurance.
  • No statewide plan is offered under this law.
    [2/16: 29-21, party-line (D. Johnson voting “no” with Democrats)]


HF 441 allows 16- and 17-year-olds to work in laundry occupations if the washing machine has a capacity of less than 10 cubic feet and is designed to reach an internal temperature that does not exceed 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
[4/4: 47-3 (Dvorsky, Hogg, Taylor “no”)]


HF 529 conforms state law to federal law for civil penalties in violations of occupation safety health laws. It strikes references to specific dollar amounts for civil penalties. Federal law requires an annual adjustment of penalty amounts based on federal Consumer Price Index. The state Labor Commissioner must adopt rules annually to adjust to the Consumer Price Index.

Penalties for each violation are increased by about 80 percent. Approximately $1 million annually in penalties has been collected and deposited into the state’s General Fund. It’s estimated that amount will increase by about $800,000 per year. The last change in penalties was in the early 1990s.
[4/3: 49-0 (Bertrand excused)]


HF 533 disqualifies a person for unemployment benefits they are incarcerated. Since 1975, an Administrative Rule (871-24.25(16)) has deemed incarceration to be voluntarily quitting without good cause and disqualifies a person from unemployment benefits. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in Irving v. Employment Appeal Board that the Administrative Rule misinterpreted Iowa Code 96.5 and that incarceration alone does not constitute voluntarily quitting.

Under this new law, a person separated from employment because they are incarcerated is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits, unless all of the following conditions are met:

  • The individual notified the employer that they would be absent from work because of incarceration prior to their absence.
  • Criminal charges relating to the incarceration were not filed against the individual, all criminal charges relating to the incarceration were dismissed, or the individual was found not guilty of all criminal charges.
  • The individual reported back to the employer within two work days of the individual’s release from incarceration and offered services.
  • The employer rejected the individual’s offer of services.

In addition, if an individual is disqualified for unemployment benefits, they are disqualified regardless of the source of their wage credits. This law goes into effect July 2.
[4/4: 42-8 (Bisignano, Bolkcom, Dvorsky, Horn, McCoy, Petersen, Quirmbach, Taylor “no”)]


HF 542 increases the amount a person who has drawn unemployment benefits must earn to be eligible in the next benefit year from $250 to eight times their weekly benefit amount. States range from a low of $250 in Iowa to 10 times the weekly benefit amount. Iowa Workforce Development estimates this change will disqualify 395 claims (those between $250 and eight times the benefit amount).
[4/4: 29-21, party-line (D. Johnson voting “no” with Democrats)]


HF 572 makes changes to membership on the state Iowa Workforce Development Board to comply with the Federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA). The board has been made up of 50 percent business and 50 percent labor. WIOA requires:

  • A majority of the board’s voting members be representatives of businesses.
  • 20 percent of the board’s members be representatives from labor and community-based organizations.
  • Voting members to increase from nine to 33: 17 from business, seven from workforce (labor and community-based organizations), four from state agencies, the Governor, one state senator, one state representative, one city elected official and one county elected official.
  • 13 nonvoting members.

The new law also makes changes to board duties, and provides for initial board appointments and transition. The changes to the Workforce Board are effective upon enactment.

Changes are made to 2016 legislation authorizing Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) to join a consortium with Idaho and Vermont to modify the Idaho unemployment benefit payment software system for use in Iowa. IWD was authorized to use $5.9 million in federal funds for that project, but discovered the system cannot be adapted to Iowa’s needs. The Idaho language is struck, and IWD is now authorized to use the federal funds for unemployment insurance system modernization. The Department is working with the state’s Chief Information Officer to find an appropriate software system.
[4/3: 49-0 (Bertrand excused)]