As state and national economies continue to struggle, more and more claims have been made in recent years that taxpayer-funded public employees are paid too much, pay too little for health insurance and have handsome pensions compared to many in the private sector.
There is no dispute, says Peter Fisher, research director at the Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City, that there has been a “campaign across the country” the last couple of years to portray public workers as overcompensated, a campaign which he says has been fueled by conservative businesses, individuals and think tanks.
“And I think it’s been pretty successful,” Fisher says.
The Iowa Public Employment Relations Act states that Iowa’s public-sector employers and bargaining-unit employees “shall” compare the wages, hours and conditions of employment of their past contracts and the contracts of “other public employees doing comparable work” when public-sector employers and employees negotiate new contracts.
Since the mid-1970s, that language in the state law by and large has resulted in the exclusion of private-sector compensation comparisons during public-sector contract negotiations in Iowa.
What do you think of the law as it stands? Should negotiators be able to compare public- and private-sector workers when working out contracts for public employees?