State Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix. — illustration by Jordan Sellergren
Iowa State Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix has reversed his position on what he will do to address sexual harassment and other workplace problems in the Senate Republican caucus. Again.
Two weeks ago, Dix and Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer announced the State Senate and House would jointly hire a human resources manager for the legislature. Creating the HR position was a response to a jury awarding a former Senate Republican staffer $2.2 million, after finding the Senate Republican caucus violated laws against workplace sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
Last week, Dix said during a press conference that he was backing out his agreement with Upmeyer, and instead of hiring an HR manager, the Senate would hire an outside consulting firm to advise the Senate on whether it should hire an HR manager.
After Dix’s press conference, Upmeyer said she would go ahead and hire an HR manager for the House “in order to provide the best working environment we can for our employees.”
In a written statement released today, Dix announced he had changed his mind again, and will “reengage” with Upmeyer on the hiring of an HR manager.
“As this process has unfolded, it has become clear to me that we are in need of change and our employees deserve better,” Dix said in his statement.
Dix has dropped the idea of hiring an outside consulting firm. Instead, he has asked Mary Kramer to advise him on workplace culture. Kramer, a Republican who represented West Des Moines in the state Senate from 1990 until she was nominated to be ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean by President George W. Bush in 2003, previously worked as a human resources executive for Younkers department stores and Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Kramer will serve for free on a voluntary basis.
In his statement Dix also announced he had changed his position on whether to make public the report that resulted from an internal investigation by Senate Republicans into whether their caucus created a hostile work environment, complete with sexual harassment and racist slurs. Previously, Dix had insisted the report would not be made public, because the people interviewed during the investigation had an expectation of privacy. Today Dix said the report will be made public by the end of the week.
During his press conference last week, Dix said he hadn’t actually read the report, but had been told the Republican caucus no longer had a hostile workplace environment or any sexual harassment problems.