DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -

Iowa is fast becoming part of the national movement to weaken public-sector unions and their collective bargaining rights, according to labor-relations experts.

The Gazette in Cedar Rapids reports that public-sector collective bargaining is experiencing its strongest upheaval in four decades. Experts predict the pressure will intensify as state budgets get squeezed by federal cutbacks and rising pension and health insurance costs.

University of Pittsburgh business professor John Delaney says the push is driven by partisan politics and financial pressures.

Iowa negotiators are trying to reach voluntary agreements with unionized public employee bargaining units on new two-year agreements that would run through June 2013.

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has said Iowa is one of only six states with a health benefit that lets employees pay nothing for coverage.