Iowa Lawmaker Calls Group’s Director a ‘Punk’ After Picture with Governor

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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  The marathon debate about changing Iowa’s four decades-long policy giving unions rights to bargain on behalf of public workers featured emotional rhetoric, and so has the aftermath.

Republican-led majorities in the House and Senate passed a bill Thursday, later signed by Republican Governor Terry Branstad Friday, that significantly restricts the number of issues covered under collective bargaining, except for wages for most of the state’s 184,000 public workers.

Democrats complained the effort evolved to hurt organized labor and the party it traditionally supports.

“It’s anti-union,” said Polk County Democratic Chairman Tom Henderson. “It’s anti-public servant. It’s callously designed to damage the Democratic Party.”

Along with no longer guaranteeing unions the right to bargain on issues like overtime, holiday pay, and vacations, the new law stops unions from automatically deducting dues from workers’ paychecks and also makes union certification more frequent.

Americans for Prosperity’s State Director Drew Klein applauded the changes, which he contends will make government more efficient by giving school districts, local governments, and other entities the ability to better negotiate benefits, based on an individual’s performance and skill level.

Klein tweeted out a picture of himself with the governor from the official signing of the bill, which the governor’s office had made private and didn’t allow media to observe.

Klein’s tweet drew this response from State Senator Jeff Danielson, a Cedar Falls Democrat:

Danielson followed up with what he said he meant by using the term “punk:”

Klein responded, “On one hand, they would call me ‘punk’ or want people to believe that I am inexperienced. While all night through that debate, we heard that somehow I wrote the piece of legislation that was drafted or that this is being completely led by an outside organization.”

Americans for Prosperity is a conservative advocacy group that pushes for limited government and free market principles. It was founded by billionaire businessman brothers Charles and David Koch.

Henderson and Klein made their comments on Channel 13’s The Insiders, aired at 9:30 a.m. Sundays.