Court says Culver can’t mediate labor dispute

In mid-January Governor Culver tried to get involved in an eastern Iowa labor dispute.    Today, a federal court has issued an injunction in the matter, leaving Culver “no room” to get involved according to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

Statement of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office:
Today the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Iowa enjoined or prohibited Governor Culver from invoking Iowa Code Chapter 679B in an effort by the Governor to resolve the labor dispute at the Grain Processing Corporation plant in Muscatine, Iowa.

The union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 86D, has been locked out of the Muscatine plant since August 2008 in a labor dispute that began before that.  As the court noted, the chair of the Muscatine County Board of Supervisors asked the Governor for assistance to end the lockout, and asked the Governor to appoint a board of arbitration and conciliation.

The federal court ruled that chapter 679B was preempted by the National Labor Relations Act and that Governor Culver had no authority to appoint a board of arbitration and conciliation under state law to investigate and make public recommendations that could help resolve the labor dispute. 

Attorney General Tom Miller said:  “We respect the judge’s decision.  The ruling appears to leave no room for the Governor to take any action under state law.” 

The Attorney General’s Office defended the Governor against the injunctive action filed by Grain Processing Corporation.  The state had urged the federal court to allow the Governor to proceed with appointment of a board that would have authority to help find a resolution of the labor dispute, but would not have authority to bind the parties.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.