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Iowa Labor Defeats
Amendments to
State’s Constitution


UE and other unions led a strong, come-from-behind campaign to defeat two tax-related amendments to the Iowa constitution, both heavily favored to gain voter endorsement in a special election on June 29.

The amendments would have limited state government spending to 99 percent of revenues and required a 60 percent majority of the legislature to raise taxes.

"Everyone was surprised that the amendments failed," commented Dan Kelley, president of Local 893-IUP. After the state legislature’s endorsement of the amendments, early polls showed the proposals had 75 percent support. Proponents dramatically outspent opponents. "We were buried in television ads," pointed out Kelley — ads that portrayed the amendments as a protection against higher taxes.


But backers were denied a sure victory by low voter turnout — only about 25 percent of the electorate voted — combined with active opposition by unions, public reservations expressed by two of Iowa’s biggest churches, opposition of the largest municipalities and concerns of public officials. The first amendment went down to defeat with 49 percent of the vote; the second amendment secured 48 percent.

"Clearly the UE and the other unions in the coalition played a pretty significant role," said Local 893 Vice Pres. Bill Austin. "The unions got the word out early that these were cleverly disguised efforts to lock in tax breaks for the rich," the UE leader explained.

"Nobody is very fond of paying taxes but the reality is that without taxes you don’t have quality schools, roads or other essentials of good government services," Austin said. "These amendments would have made it impossible to have any tax reform that would have required the wealthy to pay their fair share."

Defeat of the amendments, Austin said, is "a victory for all of us."

UE News - 07/99

Home -> UE News -> 1999 Archives -> Article

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