DES MOINES, Iowa -- The numbers are against them and so is the calendar. But more than 1,000 people spilled out of a packed public hearing room at the Iowa Statehouse to protest massive changes in the state's collective bargaining bill that would impact an estimated 184,000 public workers.
Critics dominated the two-hour public hearing. Several people did speak in support of the bill, which takes away most of the issues unions can negotiate on behalf of their workers, except for wages.
Republicans have the majority in both the House and Senate, so as long as they stick together, they can pass the largest changes to the collective bargaining laws since they were approved in 1973. Leaders say voters gave them the majorities to shrink the cost and size of government, which they believe this bill will accomplish.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a short-lived Republican presidential candidate in 2015, Skyped into a Republican caucus meeting to encourage lawmakers to follow through on the changes. Walker led an effort to dramatically scale back collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin in 2011.
Both chambers plan to debate the bill on Tuesday. Republicans chose to run the same bills through the subcommittee and committee process in both chambers simultaneously, which will allow the bill to go through the process more quickly than if one chamber acted at a time.
Democrats may try to slow down debate this week as much as they can in the hopes public outcry will convince Republicans to at least scale back the changes they are trying to make.