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Teachers, one of many public employee groups worried about their future in Iowa

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Could the quality of public safety and education be a concern in the near future for Iowans?

Governor Branstad and Republicans with a majority rule in the House and Senate, are calling for changes in the collective bargaining laws for public employees.

 If you've stepped outside your home today,  odds are you've interacted with a public employee or something they've worked on.

 It is something collective bargaining supports want you to realize.

 "We have had a lot of snow lately. Were you streets plowed? Thank a public employee. Do you have kids, grandkids, or neighbors who go to school? Thank a teacher. How about if your house catches on fire? If you have an emergency and need help from the police, can you call them?" said retired public transit bus driver Lon Kammeyer.

Collective bargaining is used to negotiate wages and benefits between the employers and groups.

Supporters, like teachers, say it is a valuable tool in recruiting and retaining talent.

"We need people that are attracted to this profession, want to stay in this profession and who aren't frustrated and burned out in a few years. If you aren't getting health insurance and your working conditions are so poor that you can't put up with your job. We aren't going to keep those good people or attract good people into this profession," said high school math teacher Jeff Orvis.

Waterloo Police Officer Dave McFarland has voiced the same concerns for recruiting officers.

Supporters also point to an eventual economic effect, if public employees are forced to pay more for health insurance.

"The local businesses will feel the effects of all the state workers and teachers . . .If we have $800 less a month to spend, we won't be spending it in the Cedar Valley," said a lady at a recent meeting in Waterloo, where public employees voiced their concerns.

The $800 was just an example and not an actual number.

State-wide there are roughly 180,000 public employees.

There is no official bill proposed at this point.

Republicans say they need to explore collective bargaining for the good of the tax payer.

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