Cindy Axne. (photo courtesy of IPBS)

Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne is co-sponsoring legislation to prohibit companies from ending health care benefits for striking workers.

“I think across this country we’ve seen too many places where Americans are under threat of losing their health care because they’re standing up for workers’ rights,” Axne says.

Axne, a Democrat, says she learned about the issue this fall as she walked the picket line in Ankeny with striking John Deere workers. Deere and Company continued paying health care premiums, but under current law, it could have stopped providing health care benefits after October 27.

“How can they do that to families?” Axne asks. “How can they do that to children, who need this? How can they do to pregnant mothers? How can they do that to people who have cancer or some other disease?”

Over 100 union workers who’ve been on strike at a California baker lost health care coverage January 1. Axne says corporations sometimes use termination of health care benefits as a tactic to end a strike.

“People across the country understand that it’s not fair for workers who are still employed by those companies while they’re on strike,” she says “because if you’re still employed, you shouldn’t be losing those benefits.”

Axne is seeking reelection to a third term in the U.S. House this year. The Des Moines Register reported this week Axne has begun accepting contributions from political action committees connected to corporations. Axne had refused PAC donations in past campaigns.

“I came to understand that those PACs are nothing when compared to the real threat, which is dark money,” Axne says. “The Republicans have been spending millions running false and misleading ads against me. I’ve got to make sure I have the opportunity to push back against those who are trying to smear my record.”

Republicans say Axne’s reversal on this campaign finance issue shows she can’t be trusted to keep her word.