Fiery Public Hearing Monday Night On Collective Bargaining

Iowa Capitol Pioneer StatueDes Moines, Iowa — Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker spoke privately via Skype to Republican legislators in Iowa Monday, encouraging them to embrace the same kind of collective bargaining changes he enacted in Wisconsin six years ago.

There was a two-hour public hearing at the statehouse Monday night about the bill the Iowa House and Senate were preparing to debate Tuesday. A huge crowd turned out to voice their opposition to the Republican-backed measure. Critics say the bill “guts” Iowa’s collective bargaining law for public employees, leaving base wages as the only item unions and management may negotiate.

Rick Scott of Lawton, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union based in Sioux City, represents workers for bus systems in Sioux City, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines and Waterloo. “Just because you have the political power to do something does not mean that it’s the right thing to do,” Scott said.

Kerry Gruenhagen, a small business owner from Walcott, says “thousands of Iowans” believe their tax dollars are “too easily…spent.” “That money comes out of our paycheck,” Gruenhagen says. “…I know that I am a lone voice up here today…but I, like many families, have had enough.”

Wisconsin’s governor tweeted about his private talk with Iowa’s Republican legislators. Walker also posted a picture of the massive protests in Wisconsin over his actions in 2011. He told G-O-P lawmakers in Iowa that Republicans in Wisconsin have gained seats in that state’s legislature since then.

Drew Klein, state director for Americans for Prosperity, was one of four people to speak in favor of the bill.

Three dozen people spoke against the bill. Lindsey Herron, a correctional officer at the state women’s prison in Mitchellville, says she took a pay cut because the benefits outweighed the pay.

Shelly Silver, a probation officer for 21 years, told legislators they were being “sneaky.”

Tammy Wawro, president of the Iowa State Education Association — the teacher’s union, told legislators they were engaged in “profession busting.”

Senator Nate Boulton, a Democrat from Des Moines, climbed on a chair to speak to the throng of union members.

Danny Homan, president of AFSCME Council 61 — the union that represents state and local government workers, was the rally’s closer.