Thousand protest proposed collective bargaining bill - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Thousand protest proposed collective bargaining bill

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During a public hearing on collective bargaining, the state capitol filled with more than a thousand frustrated Iowans, Monday.

The majority of those gathered were speaking out against the proposed changes to collective bargaining.

The Republican-dominated legislature is considering a bill many public employee unions say would gut the state's current law on collective bargaining.

If passed, the bill would allow employers to fire public workers without cause, and it would stop unions from bargaining several benefits.

Public workers in the state say they didn't get a seat at the table, when the bill was drafted.

Protesting that and the changes proposed in the bill, more than a thousand public workers including teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers gathered in the states rotunda, Monday night.

Although, most of them signed up to speak in the public hearing, only a a handful of them got the chance during the two hour session.

"I take this very personally. I have worked in community corrections for 21 years," said one woman who had the chance to address the state representatives. "All I ask in return is that I be paid a fair wage, with decent heath and insurance benefits at a negotiated cost, so that I can afford to raise my family in a comfortable manner and have the ability to put money back into the local economy. Legislation like this says. 'You do not value us as state workers,'" continued the woman.

Those opposing the bill say it would hurt the states ability to recruit and retain talent in the various fields.

"Consider the impact on our students, due to the possible instability of instruction when there is a high teacher turnover caused by teachers who would flee the profession or the state to provide for their families. This is my reality. Please vote no on House File 291," said an Iowa teacher.

Outnumbered, supporters of the bill also spoke. 

A small business owner pointed to people like him who struggle because of tax increases.

"That money comes out of our paycheck. My family, my wife, my son and his young wife, we are forced to find another corner to cut; another birthday party to skip. Maybe we can find someone's old used tires to keep our car running. The public employees are not the enemy, perhaps in the rigors of life they forget the blessings a government job offers," said the small business owner.

Overall, the majority of people at the public hearing say the changes are an attack on public employees.

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