Iowans plan to rally in support of Wisconsin unions - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowans plan to rally in support of Wisconsin unions

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - The debate on union rights in Wisconsin has other states watching for what comes next. The Republican leader of the state senate said there will be no vote on a bill that would take away collective bargaining for most public employees, until Democrats return.

The debate has led thousands to protest at the Wisconsin state capitol in the past week, and John Stellmach, president of AFSCME Local 12 in Iowa City, plans to be at a similar rally in Des Moines this week.

"We want to show solidarity to our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin, and we want people in Iowa to understand we're their neighbors," said Stellmach in an interview Monday.

AFSCME Local 12 represents about 5,000 workers at the University of Iowa. Stellmach says collective bargaining rights are absolutely necessary for union workers.

"Not only to bargain for wages and benefits, but also make sure they have just cause for discipline," Stellmach explained.

If those rights were to be struck down here in Iowa, according to Stellmach, "you basically have no recourse. You can't negotiate wages, benefits, you're going to get what they're going to give you."

However, Stellmach said the possibility of that happening here is slim, and that Wisconsin is in a much different financial situation. Either way, he hopes the presence of union workers and leaders in Iowa's capitol will send a clear message.

"Balancing the budget on the back of state workers isn't going to get the job done," said Stellmach.

Online Reporter: Brady Smith

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