Iowa Joins Wisconsin In Protest Of Union-Busting Bill
by Trish Nelson
Citizens Put Iowa GOP and Governor Branstad on Notice
Yesterday, I made the trek to the state capitol on a bus with friends, Teamsters and teachers, for the rally and hearing on the union-busting bill currently under consideration in the Iowa legislature. My friend Maureen and I caught a ride over on the Teamster bus (a yellow school bus) so we could get to the capitol in time for the rally, as the teachers' bus couldn't leave Iowa City until 4:00, after they completed the school day; we made the return trip on the ISEA bus. Teachers, a very positive hard-working bunch, have great stories to tell about the challenges they cheerfully face every day.
Iowans – teachers, fire fighters, social workers, union members and supporters showed up in scores to peacefully and sometimes loudly protest this attempted coup d'etat by the GOP and corporate interests. Regular working people in colorful tee-shirts with slogans and signs blended in with the suits in the rotunda and in the House chamber.
There were speakers set up for the large overflow crowd and you could actually hear the testimony better in the rotunda than in the gallery. Speaker after speaker decried the bill with relatively few giving testimony (and not very persuasively) for it. [Capitol police said the crowd was around 700; 60 people gave testimony, and only "a handful" were in support of the bill].
One pro-bill speaker's argument was basically that she owned her own business and doesn't get a pension so why should anyone else? (Well, the same is true for me, but I still want other working people to get a good deal).
A social worker who is a child abuse investigator told about the hazards of going alone to people's homes who sometimes are criminals, or who may have been charged with operating a meth lab or domestic abuse, working 90 hours a week, having no clerical help, having to type her own legal documents. She said the state doesn't care how much overtime they have to pay because it is still cheaper than paying for adequate staffing.
A young prosecutor told about how her job helps make sure neighborhoods are safe by keeping criminals off the street – she asks, why would Iowans not want this public service?
And on and on. Inspirational speech after inspirational speech. I was proud to be an Iowan.
Fortunately, it appears that the bill is unlikely to pass because Iowa has something that Wisconsin does not have – Democrats! In Iowa, the GOP does not control both houses. Democrats still have the senate.
Enter Michael Gronstal, Democratic Senate Majority Leader, hero of the people, who informed those present: “We are not going to let House Republicans take away what our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought for.”