Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: Joe Hill
“If the workers took a notion they could stop all speeding trains; every ship upon the ocean they can tie with mighty chains. Every wheel in the creation every mine and every mill; fleets and armies of the nation, will at their command stand still.”

November 18
Seattle printers refuse to print anti-labor ad in newspaper – 1919

Thirty-one men died on Lake Michigan with the sinking of the Carl D. Bradley during one of the worst storms in the lake’s history. The 623-foot ship, carrying limestone, broke in two. Four crewmen survived – 1958

November 19
Joe Hill, labor leader and songwriter, executed in Utah on what many believe was a framed charge of murder. Before he died he declared: “Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize.” – 1915

The nation’s first automatic toll collection machine is used at the Union Toll Plaza on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway – 1954

The National Writers Union is founded, representing freelance and contract writers and others in the trade. In 1992 it was to merge into and become a local of the United Auto Workers – 1981

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Union Communication Services

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House of Representatives Votes to Have Seniors Subsidize the Wealthiest 1%

Statement by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, on the House vote on the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

 “The bill the House approved today hurts older Americans now and in the future.

“Eliminating the medical expense deduction means it will be harder for families with high medical expenses, most of whom are seniors, to make ends meet.

“But all older Americans will be hurt by this. The bill provides so many tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and corporations that the deficit will explode and automatic spending cuts will kick in. There will be a $25 billion cut from Medicare alone, and more from Medicaid.

“The wealthy and corporations do not need these tax breaks. The vast majority of Americans understand that trickle-down economics does not work, and they disapprove of this plan. Retirees and working Americans know who this plan helps and who it hurts. And they will remember this when they vote in 2018.”

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Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: DeMaurice Smith “No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights.  No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human … Continue reading

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AFSCME appeals lawsuit challenging collective Iowa bargaining law

Iowa’s largest union for public employees has filed an appeal in a case challenging the state’s new law sharply limiting collective bargaining rights.

The suit, filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Iowa Council 61 in February, was dismissed by a Polk County judge late last month.

The appeal, filed Tuesday, could bring the case before the Iowa Supreme Court.

“We have no timeline for knowing whether or not the Supreme Court of Iowa will hear our case, but we will never stop fighting for the rights of Iowa public employees,” AFSCME Council 61 President Danny Homan said in a statement announcing the appeal. “Republicans at the Capitol thought they could silence us by gutting the collective bargaining law, but they underestimated the power of working Iowans determined to reclaim their rights.”


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Vote no one Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

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Why Courts Matter Iowa Urges Senate Judiciary Committee to Reject Leonard Steven Grasz’s Nomination

[Des Moines]— On October 30, representatives of the American Bar Association released a statement unanimously deeming federal judicial nominee Leonard Steven Grasz “not qualified”. Grasz is the third nominee since 1989 to receive this rating unanimously, and the previous two were not confirmed. If confirmed, Grasz would oversee Iowa from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals bench.

Today, representatives of the ABA will testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting about the rating. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley invited these representatives to testify before his committee votes on Grasz’s nomination.

Iowa Citizen Action Network Executive Director Sue Dinsdale, One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, Americans for Democratic Action Iowa Director Chris Schwartz, and Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following joint statement on behalf of Why Courts Matter Iowa in advance of today’s Judiciary Committee meeting:

“Leonard Steven Grasz has a long history of anti-LGBTQ stances that indicate he would not be able to decide cases fairly. He’s claimed the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring same-sex marriage constitutional ‘threatens freedom’, claimed that families of same-sex couples are ‘less optimal’ than families of heterosexual couples, and supports the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy according to Lambda Legal. Grasz is unqualified to serve on a federal court bench, and we urge Sen. Grassley and the Judiciary Committee to listen to the ABA and reject his nomination.”

Sen. Grassley has a history of trusting the ABA’s judgment. The ABA gave Supreme Court Justice NeilGorsuch its top “well-qualified” rating on March 9, 2017 before he was confirmed. Sen. Grassley responded positively to this rating in a statement, citing Former Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s assertion that the ABA is the “‘gold standard’ in evaluating federal judicial nominations.”




The Why Courts Matter Iowa coalition is focused on ensuring that the federal judiciary is representative of America’s diverse population and ending the judicial vacancy crisis so that every American can have his or her day in court. Why Courts Matter Iowa is led by Iowa Citizen Action Network, Americans for Democratic Action Iowa, Progress Iowa, and One Iowa.

For more information visit

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GOP Bill is a Job Killer

Republicans in the House are set to vote on a terrible tax bill this week, possibly as soon as tomorrow. Despite claims that this tax plan will help the middle class, nothing could be further from the truth.

The GOP tax plan will make it easier to ship even more good-paying manufacturing jobs overseas by eliminating taxes on offshore profit. This tax plan blows a hole in the federal deficit and sticks you and your grandchildren with the bill. The GOP tax plan also unfairly raise taxes on the middle class and retirees.

Call 1-888-329-5096 now to be connected to your member of Congress. 

It would increase taxes on many middle-class families and most of its tax breaks would go to the top 1% and corporations, while many families earning between $50,000 and $150,000 would pay more in taxes.

To pay for these tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, the GOP plan would cut 1.5 trillion dollars from programs like Medicare, Medicaid and your retirement security, raising the possibility that Medicare could be turned into a voucher program.

We need your help to stop this attack on Unin families. Call 1-888-329-5096 now to be connected to your member of Congress.

When they answer just say you’re a voter in their District, tell them where you live, and tell them to VOTE NO ON H.R. 1. Call 1-888-329-5096 now to be connected to the office. And thank you for your help.

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Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: Samuel Gompers
“To effect any good by our Unions, we must bring all elements working in our trade into one Organization, for the wrongs heaped upon one element today are merely the precursor for another to morrow.”

November 16
A county judge in Punxsutawney, Pa., grants an injunction requested by the Clearfield Bituminous Coal Co. forbidding strikers from speaking to strikebreakers, posting signs declaring a strike is in progress, or even singing hymns. Union leaders termed the injunction “drastic” – 1927

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Please join us this Thursday as working women and men, faith and community groups across the United States show solidarity with those workers and take a stand against corporate greed.

Last year Mondelēz International chose to ship more than 600 good jobs making popular snacks, like Oreos, to Salinas, Mexico.

Please join us this Thursday as working women and men, faith and community groups across the United States show solidarity with those workers and take a stand against corporate greed.

Click to find an action near you.

We will be showing up at big box stores across the country to send Nabisco’s parent company, Mondelēz, a loud and clear message that we will not support any business model that seeks to move good jobs beyond our borders.

We’re asking folks to check the label, and don’t buy Nabisco products that are made in Mexico.

We hope you will be able to come out on Thursday and urge people to continue the boycott. Find an action near you.

Thank you for your support!

Brendan Kelly
Director of Field Mobilization
Alliance for Retired Americans
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Expand, Don’t Cut Des Moines’ Postal Services

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by Mike Bates and Mark Dimondstein The public Postal Service belongs to all the people. Its valuable mission is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and mandated in legislation to “provide postal services to bind the Nation together” and to “provide … Continue reading

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Senate tax plan: More debt, more inequity, more pain

Like House bill, Senate plan stacks the deck against services and opportunity IOWA CITY, Iowa (Nov. 14, 2017) — Senate Republicans’ new tax proposal in Washington carries many of the same problems of equity and fiscal irresponsibility of the House … Continue reading

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Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: Rose Schneiderman
“What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist.”

November 15
Founding convention of the Federation of Trades and Labor Unions is held in Pittsburgh. It urges enactment of employer liability, compulsory education, uniform apprenticeship and child and convict labor laws. Five years later it changes its name to the American Federation of Labor – 1881

Union Communication Services

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Statement by ISEA president Tammy Wawro on Notice of Appeal

 “The ISEA today appealed Iowa Fifth Judicial District Judge Michael Huppert’s denial for summary judgement.

“We will continue fighting hard for our members to ensure that they receive the same rights and privileges enjoyed by other employees. We will also continue to fight for the students in our care. Our professional environment is their learning environment.

“We believe the new law is blatantly unfair because it treats some public employees differently from others and it puts obstacles in place for unions in terms of dues collection and recertification.

“This appeal asks the court to consider that the new law:

“(1) Violates the Uniformity Clause found in Article I, Section 6, of the Iowa Constitution because it establishes different collective bargaining rights for bargaining units containing less than 30 percent public safety employees;

“(2) Violates the Uniformity Clause of the Iowa Constitution because it prohibits the use of payroll deduction for payment of employee organization dues, while continuing to allow such payment for dues connected with professional or trade organizations; and

“(3) Violates the substantive due process rights of our members with new requirements to certify, retain and decertify employee organizations.

“This litigation is one component of our fight to win back the rights taken from our members in the last legislative session,” said Tammy Wawro, ISEA President.

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ISEA member selected as 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year

Statement from ISEA President Tammy Wawro

on ISEA member selected as 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year

DES MOINES, IA (11/08/2017) (readMedia)– The Iowa State Education Association is proud that one of our own, Ames High School chemistry teacher, and member of the Ames Education Association, Aileen Sullivan, has been selected as the 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year. Aileen is a tremendous educator who has dedicated her career to the success of every student in her care. She represents the best of the best in Iowa schools today with unending passion and commitment to continuous improvement. She truly embodies what we know is at the heart of our profession and what is taught in our schools.

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Retirees Troubled by Choice of Alex Azar to Lead HHS

Trump appears to be putting a fox in charge of the henhouse

The following statement was issued by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding the announcement that President Donald Trump has nominated Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, to serve as his next Health and Human Services secretary.

“Prescription drug costs are the top driver behind high medical costs in this country, hurting retirees and all consumers. By nominating a drug corporation insider to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, President Trump appears to be putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.

“Congress must ask tough questions of this nominee during the confirmation process. In particular, Mr. Azar should be asked whether he supports giving Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices, the way that Medicaid and the Veterans Administration do today.”

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25 Ways Iowa Republicans Voted Against Veterans

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2017 legislative session included votes cast against veterans’ rights as workers, access to quality health care, and more Des Moines, Iowa — Progress Iowa today released a new research report, 25 Ways Iowa Republicans voted against veterans. The report examines votes … Continue reading

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Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: Bob Wages “Karen Silkwood risked her life because she cared about her fellow workers. Because of what she did the companies were forced to make many changes that protect workers’ lives and health to this day.” … Continue reading

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Progressives Pick Up Important Local Seats In Iowa’s Municipal Races – Iowa Starting Line

Iowans went to the polls yesterday in municipal races for city council and mayoral seats around the state, the second big election date since the 2016 election. Enthusiasm for local campaigns have been up in Democratic circles since Donald Trump’s elections, and many races that often only see one or two candidates were packed with contenders.

Democrats and progressive activists saw a number of key victories in city council races across Iowa, building upon the good night for the party with the Virginia sweep. Iowa’s municipal elections are technically nonpartisan, but you typically know who is from which party. Here’s a look at some of the important races Starting Line was watching. If you have others you think are notable, leave them in the comments below.


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IPP is hiring

We are seeking a research associate to focus on policy analysis on budget and tax issues, with particular emphasis on economically vulnerable Iowans. This is a tremendous opportunity for an energetic researcher with strong skills in analysis and communication at a time Iowa families face significant challenges posed by decisions at the State Capitol and in Washington.
Click here for our posting.

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Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: Franklin D. Roosevelt “How are we constructing the edifice of recovery? — the temple which, when completed, will no longer be a temple of money changers or of beggars, but rather a temple dedicated to and … Continue reading

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