Unions right to support statehouse candidates, not Culver

The Des Moines Register reports that major labor unions in Iowa are giving to Democratic candidates for the state legislature this year, but not to Governor Chet Culver. The article mentions the Iowa State Education Association, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others.

The bad blood between Culver and organized labor stems primarily from the governor’s veto of a collective bargaining bill that was rushed through the legislature this year.

As I’ve written before, I think labor advocates are wrong to put all of the blame on Culver for the mess surrounding the collective bargaining bill.

But I think they are absolutely right to focus their giving on the state legislative races now. The bigger the Democratic majority, the better the chance of getting good bills on labor issues through the legislative process. The collective bargaining bill could be revived and passed the normal way, without limited debate.

The “fair share” bill that cleared the Iowa Senate in 2007 but not the House could probably be passed with a pickup of a handful of House seats this year. Culver said in 2007 that he supported “fair share,” and I think he is almost certain to sign such a bill if it reaches his desk.

There’s no reason for unions to give Culver money now. It’s far more important to expand the Democratic majorities in the legislature. There will be plenty of time for them to donate to Culver’s gubernatorial campaign in 2009 and 2010, depending on his actions during next year’s legislative session.  

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