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Helpful Hints for Labor Unions


1. Iowa law permits labor unions (except public employee union dues) to make contributions from their general funds (dues money) to candidates and other political committees. Public employee unions should refer to Iowa Code chapter 20 or contact the Public Employment Relations Board for guidance.

2. Iowa law permits labor unions to make monetary and in-kind contributions of up through $1000 in a calendar year in the aggregate without registration of an Iowa PAC. When the amount exceeds $1000, a DR-1 must be filed within 10 days and periodic reports are required to be filed until the PAC dissolves. If a PAC exists, all of the following activities will be reported through the PAC. These instructions apply to unions who do not currently have a PAC.

3. Unions may volunteer the use of their offices/union halls for candidates for the purpose of setting up phone banks. The union must keep track of the value of the phone bank and notify the benefited candidate of this cost, which can either be reimbursed to the union by the candidate’s committee or donated as an in-kind contribution by the union.

a. One method of calculating cost of phone banks is to contact a telephone service provider or cell phone service and inquire about the cost of x number of phones being installed for x number of hours. Another way would be to use the Board’s proposed reimbursement rate to corporations of $3 per phone per hour.

b. Persons staffing the phone banks could be candidate committee unpaid volunteers (in which case there is no recordkeeping of the time involved). However, if the union organizes its members to staff the phones, it must calculate the fair market value of the time involved and notify the candidate in the same way that it advises the cost of the phones. A simple way to calculate the cost would be the minimum hourly wage rate in Iowa times the number of hours provided by the union volunteers.

4. Union “get out the vote” calls that do not request the citizen to vote for a specific candidate, but only to be sure to vote, are not subject to disclosure reporting.