Proponents of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act had a message for Iowa’s two Republican US Senators during a Friday rally in downtown Sioux City to support the bill.
“If Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst aren’t going to support us, we can replace them,” said Charlie Wishman, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
The PRO Act makes it easier to vote in union elections, protects workers from employer retaliation for going on strike, allows union members to strike on behalf of employees in a different labor organization, and more.
Wishman was part of a crowd of about 40 people who rallied outside of the Sioux City US Federal Building to urge Grassley and Ernst to support the PRO Act, which passed through the US House of Representatives with a 225-206 vote.
Grassley, a former member of the International Association of Machinists, told a Des Moines TV station in June he does not support the PRO Act because it conflicts with Iowa’s existing right-to-work law, while Ernst has not publicly released a comment on the measure.
The Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI), which considers itself the state’s largest business organization and boasts more than 1,500 members, has come out against the PRO Act.
The ABI argues that the bill hurts Iowans by ending the state’s 74-year-old right-to-work law and presents potential privacy concerns since employers would have to provide unions access to “sensitive information.”
However, supporters of the PRO Act say it’s a key piece of legislation to restoring the middle class and preventing union busting.
Two Democrats looking to challenge Grassley in 2022—and a third potential candidate—attended Friday’s rally to show their support for the PRO Act.
“Our towns, our communities, our main streets, our families will be better off in the future by passing the PRO Act,” said Dave Muhlbauer, a cattle farmer and former Crawford County supervisor. “I’m proud to be here and stand when you today and in 2022 when there’s a new name in the Senate, I’ll be proud to stand with you then.”
Former U.S. Rep Abby Finkenauer, who launched her campaign for Senate on Thursday, touted her upbringing in a union household and her support of the PRO Act while she was in Congress.
Finkenhauer, who served in the Iowa Legislature when that body drastically changed the state’s collective bargaining law in 2017, noted she was still disappointed by those changes.
“The attacks that we saw on working people while I was in that statehouse were horrendous,” she said. “Going after worker’s compensation, going after collective bargaining—that’s not who we are. We are better than that and we are going to pass this PRO Act whether Chuck Grassley or Joni Ernst like it or not.”
Another potential Grassley challenger who spoke in support of the Pro Act was Dr. Glenn Hurst of Minden. While he has not officially announced his campaign, Hurst has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.
“There’s absolutely no reason Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst haven’t signed onto this bill other than they are just really spiteful towards labor, they are not supportive of the Iowa worker and they are just trying to consolidate money at the top instead of distributing it to the people,” Hurst said.
by Ty Rushing