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Iowa Right to Work Laws

Iowans know hard work. From growing our food, to building the machines to harvest it and process it, we in the Hawkeye State work hard. And for some of the largest employers in industry, interactions between employers and employees are liable to get contentious. And in cases where employees and employers have disagreed, many employees have relied on unions to negotiate with management on their behalf. This relationship between employees, unions, and employers is regulated by a strict set of rules. This is an introduction to "right-to-work" laws in Iowa.

Right to Work Laws

State "right-to-work" statutes essentially prohibit employers and unions from making union membership (or the payment of union dues) mandatory in order for employees to get or keep a job. Iowa's state code declares, "No person shall be deprived of the right to work at a chosen occupation because of membership, affiliation, withdrawal/expulsion, or refusal to join any labor union."

Right to Work Statutes in Iowa

The chart below lists the details of Iowa's right to work statutes.

Code Section

Iowa Code 731, et seq.: Labor Union Membership

Policy on Union Membership, Organization, etc.

No person shall be deprived of the right to work at a chosen occupation because of membership, affiliation, withdrawal/expulsion, or refusal to join any labor union.

Prohibited Activity

Refusal to employ because of membership in a labor organization; contracts to exclude; union dues as prerequisite to employment; deducting dues from pay unless signed written authorization from employee.


Any contract contravening policy is illegal and void; guilty of a serious misdemeanor; injunction.

Although many states have had their right-to-work laws in the news lately with some northern states passing new statutes, Iowa's right to work law dates to 1977, when it amended the state's 1947 laws protecting union membership. These laws control the relationship between employers, employees, and unions by preventing both employers and unions from excluding non-union workers or requiring existing employees to join a union or pay union dues, and have been adopted in some form by about half of all states.

Most business interests and chambers of commerce have lobbied heavily in favor of right-to-work laws, while employee unions have universally opposed the measures. Because many right-to-work laws have enacted recently and some are still facing legal entanglements, economic studies of the overall impact the laws are having on union membership, wages, and collective bargaining agreements remain inconclusive.

Iowa Right to Work Laws: Related Resources

State employment statutes can seem complicated. You can find additional articles and resources in FindLaw's Employee Rights Center. You can also consult with an Iowa labor attorney if you would like legal advice regarding an employment or union issue.

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