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Des Moines Local 177 Drives Recertification Vote

In early 2017, Iowa Republicans enacted sweeping labor reform laws across the state, limiting the items unions can bargain over and requiring local unions to conduct and win recertification elections ahead of every new contract. This October, the Des Moines laborer employee force showed the legislature they had showed up ready to the fight.

In the elections, eligible employees in every bargaining unit had to vote by phone or online in response to a single yes-or-no question asking, in effect: Would you like your current labor organization to continue representing you in collective bargaining with your employer?

Local 177 was ready. According the Recording Secretary Richie Schmidt, the local had been working on a public employee campaign leading up to the elections for nearly a year.

The local represents nearly 630 employees, not to mention their families, which translates into lots of wages, retirement, and health insurance benefits. Many showed up at the state capital in the cold winter month of January 2016 to rally against the legislation, and they didn’t cease the momentum.

As fall came to Iowa, the union used stewards to get out on job sites and educate union employees on the impacts of the legislation and the importance of voting yes, not to mention the inherent drawback of not voting at all, since an absent vote is automatically counted as a “no” under the new law. “It really motivated some people to get out to the polls who might otherwise not vote,” said Richie.

In the weeks leading up to the election, Local 177 really put the heat on. They used robo-calls, job site visits, flyers with election dates and information, and even had automated texts ready to use if needed. The team also had organizers from MROC to come help with tracking votes, helped employees cast votes via phone, and opened up the labor hall so people could vote onsite.

The efforts were met with resounding success. Five out of the six bargaining groups in the Des Moines area won the recertification votes in a landslide.

Congratulations to Local 177 for showing Iowa lawmakers that “we’re local, and we vote!”

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