Dear Editor:

Essential democratic liberties and institutions are being threatened by words, actions, and new legislation in Washington and statehouses nationwide. Our freedoms of speech, assembly, and the press are under frequent attack.

Labor unions represent one of the crucibles of democracy where members learn and practice democratic skills such as accepting the majority vote, debating issues, compromising to reach agreement, accepting scientific evidence, campaigning for candidates and advocating for positions. These skills help create a robust democracy that works.

Scandinavian countries, where politics are less polarized, have robust democracies where citizens actively write letters, make calls, lobby, and march to influence their governments. They strive for an equal balance between the power of labor and management because they believe it leads to better decisions – 70 percent of workers participate in unions compared to 27 percent in the U.S. (less in many industries). Scandinavian economies are doing very well, productivity is higher than the U.S., and they have stable, peaceful societies. Democracy is working well there.

In Iowa, two collective bargaining bills (HSB84 & SF213) are being fast-tracked to a vote by the Republican-controlled House and Senate with very little debate. This legislation restricts public employees (except public safety) to bargaining only on wages. The ability to bargain on health insurance; vacation; working conditions like hours and overtime; and evaluation procedures is stripped from the law.

These bills tip the balance of power too far in the favor of business and government and will seriously weaken labor unions, further shrink the middle class, damage our democratic institutions, and create strife in society. Let your legislators know what you think about this legislation and remember their vote at election-time in 2018.

Craig Mosher