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Iowa Public Safety Union Solidarity



When Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans pushed through their draconian anti-public union law, one of the ways they succeeded is to cleave the police and firefighter unions off of the other public sector unions. This is the also the plan in Iowa. But the Iowa cops and firefighters aren’t going to play the patsy, even though they are as conservative as other cops and firefighters.

And although the legislation would exempt public safety workers like firefighters and police officers from some of the law’s broadest changes, many public safety workers showed up in uniform and rallied alongside the hundreds of other union workers who filled the Capitol.

“It’s not very popular to attack us these days,” said Jon Thomas, a police officer and a member of Teamsters Local 238. “I’m a Republican. I have very conservative values. Most of my coworkers in public safety are Republicans, and there’s plenty of union members who are Republicans. But we didn’t vote to get stabbed in the back while we protect and serve our communities. … The truth is, though, police and fire don’t want (to be) carved out. We stand with our teachers, our snow plow drivers, our public works personnel, our correctional officers and nurses.”

Of course, this is just one officer who is mentioned and I don’t know how deep the police support for resisting this is. But the bill itself is truly horrible, a Wisconsin level that would only allow bargaining over wages. Given how states work, where wages are often the one thing that public sector unions can’t really bargain over, this is the death knell of public unionism in Iowa. And that’s of course the point.

Say what you want about any police officer who votes Republican and then is outraged by Republicans doing what they say they will do, they aren’t any more low information voters than most other voters. The point is to pressure these politicians not to do this. We want the police on our side for this. Stripping the police of collective bargaining rights, as has been the response on much of the left to racist police violence isn’t going to help stop said racist police violence and will take away the one possible path of solidarity between the police and the left.

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