IOWA STATE EDUCATION ASSOCIATION and DAVENPORT EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, Appellants,
STATE OF IOWA, IOWA PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS BOARD, MIKE CORMACK, JAMIE VAN FOSSEN, and MARY GANNON, Appellees.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Michael D.
representing public school employees appeal summary judgment
dismissing their constitutional challenges to 2017 amendments
to the Public Employment Relations Act.
O'Brien and Lubna A. Alam of the National Education
Association, Washington, D.C.; Becky S. Knutson of Davis,
Brown, Koehn, Shors & Roberts, P.C., Des Moines; and
Jeremiah A. Collins of Bredhoff & Kaiser P.L.L.C.,
Washington, D.C., for appellants.
Matthew C. McDermott, Michael R. Reck, Kelsey J. Knowles, and
Espnola F. Cartmill of Belin McCormick, P.C., Des Moines, for
Smith of Smith & McElwain Law Office, Sioux City, for
amici curiae Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO;
Communications Workers of America; and International Union of
Operating Engineers, Local 234.
D. Zenor of Grefe & Sidney, P.L.C., Des Moines, and Frank
D. Garrison of National Right to Work Legal Defense
Foundation, Springfield, Virginia, for amicus curiae Kevin
appeal, submitted with AFSCME Iowa Council 61 v.
State, ___ N.W.2d___ (Iowa 2019), also filed today,
presents constitutional challenges to the 2017 amendments to
Iowa Code chapter 20, the Public Employment Relations Act
(PERA). The amendments ended payroll deductions for union
dues and narrowed the scope of mandatory collective
bargaining topics for bargaining units comprised of less than
thirty percent "public safety employees," defined
to include most police officers and firefighters but not
prison guards, campus police officers, and emergency medical
technicians. The new classifications result in many public
employees losing significant statutory bargaining rights
compared to other public employees with arguably similar
jobs. Two unions representing public school employees filed
this action seeking injunctive and declaratory relief against
the State of Iowa, the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board
(PERB), and three PERB board members. The plaintiffs allege
the 2017 amendments violate the equal protection clause of
the Iowa Constitution. The district court granted the
defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the
action, and we retained the plaintiffs' appeal.
role is to decide whether constitutional lines were crossed,
not to sit as a superlegislature rethinking policy choices of
the elected branches. We conclude the 2017 amendments
withstand the constitutional challenges. The parties agree
the equal protection claims are reviewed under the
deferential rational basis test. As more fully explained in
AFSCME Iowa Council 61, the legislature could
reasonably conclude that the goal of keeping labor peace with
unions comprised of at least thirty percent public safety
employees, and the greater risks faced by police and
firefighters, justified the classification. We hold the
legislative classifications are not so overinclusive or
underinclusive as to be unconstitutional under our
court's rational basis test. For the reasons explained
below, we also reject the plaintiffs' equal protection
challenge to the prohibition on payroll deductions for union
dues. Accordingly, we affirm the district court's summary
judgment in favor of the defendants.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
case, we consider another challenge to House File 291
amending PERA, Iowa's collective bargaining statute, Iowa
Code chapter 20. We discuss chapter 20 and House File
291's 2017 amendments in AFSCME Iowa Council 61,
___ N.W.2d at___, and do not repeat that discussion here.
plaintiffs in this case, the Iowa State Education Association
(ISEA) and the Davenport Education Association (DEA), are
unions representing public school employees. The ISEA
represents more than 30, 000 members throughout the state,
most of whom are public school teachers. The ISEA has 400
local associations that negotiate collective bargaining
agreements with school districts in Iowa. The DEA represents
the professional staff working for the Davenport Community
School District. PERB has certified the DEA as the exclusive
bargaining agent to represent those employees. The employees
represented by the ISEA and the DEA are not "public
safety employees" as defined in the 2017 amendments.
April 2017, the ISEA and the DEA filed this civil action for
declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging House File 291
violated article I, section 6 of the Iowa Constitution by
denying equal treatment to the unions and the employees they
represent. The defendants, the State of Iowa; PERB;
PERB's chairperson, Mike Cormack; and PERB board members
Jamie Van Fossen and Mary Gannon, filed an answer and
affirmative defenses. The parties filed cross-motions for
district court concluded that House File 291 passed rational
basis scrutiny without violating article I, section 6 of the
Iowa Constitution and, therefore, granted summary judgment in
favor of the defendants. As to the differentiation between
public safety employees and all other public employees, the
district court concluded that the legislature gave public
safety employees greater bargaining rights because of the
potential risk to public safety if these employees went on
strike and because, if other public employees went on strike,
it would fall on public safety employees to enforce the law
in the ensuing labor unrest. Because the district court
relied on the strike-avoidance rationale, the court did not
consider the State's other proffered rationale that the
differentiation was also rationally based on the unique
safety issues public safety employees face requiring
expansive bargaining rights on topics like health insurance.
As to payroll deductions, the district court accepted the
fiscal responsibility goal advanced by the State, reasoning
that the legislature could conclude "that collective
bargaining is expensive, disruptive and not in the best
interest of citizens" and there was no constitutional
requirement to continue payroll deductions for union dues
merely because payroll deductions for other organizations
ISEA and the DEA appealed, and we retained their appeal.
Scope of Review.
review summary judgment rulings for correction of errors at
law." Baker v. City of Iowa City, 867 N.W.2d
44, 51 (Iowa 2015). "We view the entire record in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party, making every
legitimate inference that the evidence in the record will
support in favor of the nonmoving party." Bass v.
J.C. Penney Co., 880 N.W.2d 751, 755 (Iowa 2016).
review constitutional claims de novo. State v.
Groves, 742 N.W.2d 90, 92 (Iowa 2007). Our standard of
review with regard to constitutional challenges to statutes
is well established,
We review constitutional challenges to a statute de novo.
In doing so, we must remember that statutes are cloaked
with a presumption of constitutionality. The challenger
bears a heavy burden, because it must prove the
unconstitutionality beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover,
"the challenger must refute every reasonable basis
upon which the statute could be found to be
constitutional." Furthermore, if the statute is
capable of being ...