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Sen. Grassley comes out against PRO Act

Supporters say the legislation would boost labor laws, but the senator said it would repeal right to work laws in 27 states, including Iowa.

IOWA, USA — Despite a number of people gathering in downtown Des Moines calling for Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst to support a sweeping labor bill in Washington, one of the senators they are trying to persuade says he intends to vote 'no.'

In a call Wednesday, Grassley said the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act conflicts with decades-old labor law.

"Under the 1947 Taft Hartley law, a section of that law allows the states to have what we call our Right to Work law," Grassley said. "So you don't have to belong to a union to hold a job in states that don't have the right to work law."

Iowa is currently one of 27 states to have a right-to-work law on the books.

The Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO said nearly 100 people gathered in front of the Neal Smith Federal Building Wednesday to try and convince Grassley and Ernst to support the measure.

The PRO Act already passed the Democratic-led house along party lines earlier this year.

The bill "expands various labor protections related to employees' rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace," according to the bill summary.

Grassley said the legislation also conflicts with the constitution. 

"It violates freedom of association of first amendment right. If you got to pay union dues, and you don't believe in unions, it would turn the land of the free into the land of the fee," he said. 

A request for comment from Ernst's office was not immediately returned.

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