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***This was one of the most popular stories of 2021 at The Iowa Standard. During this time of year, when things slow down, we like revisiting some of the most popular stories from the year.***

One Iowan made their way to the Capitol for the first time earlier this week. An employee of Collins Aerospace of more than two decades showed up to stand against vaccine mandates.

“I’m just very concerned,” they told The Iowa Standard in an interview. “I’m kind of offended that while the state government and the governor are all outraged about Biden’s federal mandate, they don’t seem to care that you have unelected CEOs and, in our case, a liberal Connecticut-based CEO who has probably never been to Iowa telling us what we have to do here in Iowa.”

Concerned employees had already talked with Republican State Rep. Charlie McClintock, who noted there are bills out there attempting to solve the problem. But, McClintock told these Iowans pressure needs to be brought to legislators to try to get them to address the issue in special session.

This Iowan in particular was able to talk with Republican State Sen. Brad Zaun about the problem.

“He seemed to be very taken back when I said I will be fired in December if I don’t cave and get a vaccine,” the employee said. “I was there to try to impress upon the legislature that if they’re going to do something, they need to do it soon — now, hopefully.”

When Collins announced the mandate, unvaccinated employees immediately could not travel for the company. As of Nov. 15, unvaccinated employees will not be allowed in any building. And on Jan. 1, unvaccinated employees will be fired.

“They’re not giving anybody in Iowa the testing option like they are in other states where the company is not allowed to ask about vaccination status — like Montana,” they said.

After talking with a woman at the rally who told them Speaker Pat Grassley is the hold-up when it comes to the legislature addressing the mandates, they were about ready to leave the building.

“As I was leaving feeling pretty down and discouraged about that, I talked to one of the gentlemen who was a speaker and I could go try to talk to Pat,” they said. “They directed us to where the Speaker’s chamber was and anybody who knows me knows I’m not real shy and not squeamish about confrontation — so I just went up there.”

They walked into Grassley’s office and none of his staff were sitting there, but they could hear people talking in the office.

“So we just sat there and waited,” they said.

Eventually, a staffer asked if they needed help and they said they’d like to speak with Speaker Grassley. When asked if they had an appointment, they answered no, but they’d just like to speak with him.

They waited a bit, and then Grassley came out.

“He didn’t know me from Adam,” they said. “I introduced myself and said my name and where I am from and that I was here for the first time at the Capitol with the protest to advocate against vaccine mandates. I just jumped right in. I told him I heard he was pretty much the sticking point on getting this done.

“I’ve never met him before, but he seemed either irritated or just all-around defensive. And basically we talked for five, maybe 10 minutes, which I’m appreciative of.”

But the conversation, this particular Iowan said, didn’t result in anything.

“It really didn’t affect him,” they said. “He really didn’t care. He basically said there’s no bill, there is no bill to be brought forth and there’s not enough votes for it — so basically there’s no solution.”

The Iowan asked Grassley about Senate File 555. Grassley said it wouldn’t pass.

“I told him the speakers downstairs said there are an awful lot of votes and there are bills coming. (Grassley) goes ‘they’re lying to you.’ I said, ‘what?’ He said not to get upset with him, that he was the only one telling me the truth. He said this isn’t going to happen.”

The Iowan called it “discouraging” and asked Grassley why he would let corporations do this to Iowans.

According to the Iowan, Grassley told him they’re loathed to tell corporations what to do.

“I said ‘can’t you still bring a vote?’ He said why would he bring a vote on a bill that’s not going to pass. He asked if that would make me happy. He asked if I had a bill to bring forward.

“I said there’s plenty of them. He said no there’s not.”

The Iowan told Grassley he wanted him to bring a vote regardless if it would pass to show Grassley is working for the people.

Grassley reportedly responded by asking if he should bring every Democrat bill up for a vote too even though it will fail.

The Iowan said he simply wants to know who is on “our side.”

“That was the bulk of the interaction,” the Iowan said. “I was very disappointed when he said the speakers who had been speaking during the protest in the morning were lying to us.”

The person then told Grassley they’ve heard that Grassley has said there’s no push back against the vaccine mandates that they’re aware of.

“He abruptly said alright, this meeting is over and he stormed out,” the person said.

They went back to McClintock and told him what Grassley said. They also told Republican State Rep. Jeff Shipley.

Both did not seem pleased.

“It’s just disappointing that you have somebody that — I respected his grandpa, and now you know, I don’t know if he’s standing up for Iowans,” the individual said. “I know he’s got a lot of funding from the drug companies. I don’t know if that’s what is swaying him. But I did talk to Sen. Zaun and he was very, very helpful in explaining that he feels they do have the votes in the Senate and they just need to settle on a single bill that they can bring and that’s when pressure can be brought to the House to have them vote on it.”

In the meantime, the Iowan also said they’re disappointed in Gov. Kim Reynolds for failing to do anything — either an executive order or calling for a special session to deal with the issue.

“She and Gov. Noem in South Dakota kind of only go to a point and then they don’t want to stick their neck out,” they said. “I’ve been told in reading through some other chats from other people who have discussed it that because she is suing President Biden over his executive order she feels if she issues an executive order it might complicate things. But for self-preservation, it doesn’t give me much comfort. I wish she would issue a temporary stay until the legislature would address it.”



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