Iowa: Once a Leader, Now a Laggard on Minimum Wage

Outdated Policy Compounds Status as Low-Wage State Labor Day Fact Sheet 1-page PDF Iowa was once a leader among states on the minimum wage. In 2007, lawmakers passed a two-step increase in the state minimum wage that took effect a … Continue reading

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Working hard, falling short

Nearly one-quarter of the estimated 46.5 million people living in poverty in the United States are members of the “working poor” — breadwinners who, because of underemployment or sporadic employment, fail to earn enough money to raise their households out of poverty.

Our state’s workers, widely known for their strong work ethic and spirit of self sufficiency, are not immune from this national problem.

That should concern all Iowans, regardless of income, as neighbors struggle to make ends meet and public assistance programs and private partners find themselves overwhelmed by need.

As Labor Day approaches, we must ask ourselves and our leaders: What can and should be done to help improve conditions and opportunities for Iowans who are working hard — or willing to work — but still are falling short?


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Clinton Labor Day picnic brings in large crowd (with VIDEOS)

CLINTON — Local elected officials, candidates and volunteers cooked and served hotdogs and other picnic foods Sunday to the hundreds of Clinton residents who came out to Eagle Point Park Lodge for the annual Labor Day Picnic.

Clinton Labor Congress President David Keefer was thrilled by this year’s turnout. Typically the picnic sees between 300 and 500 people. Keefer felt Sunday’s crowd surpassed that number.

“It’s Labor Day Weekend. It’s a very nice day. People like to come out and be part of the community,” Keefer said about why so many people attend the event each year.


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NW Iowa Labor Council and UFCW Local 222 host Labor Day Picnic


To many, Labor Day means that summer is nearly over, so it was no surprise to see a strong showing of families spending their holiday outdoors at the park.

Riverside Park in Sioux City was bustling with families and children of all ages this afternoon for a day of family fun and great food. Hosted by UFCW Local 222 and the Northwest Iowa Labor Council, the park-wide picnic was an opportunity for various Woodbury County democrats to express their views as well as spend time with some of Iowa’s voters.


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Woodbury County Board chairman asked to leave Labor Day picnic

SIOUX CITY | County Board Chairman George Boykin was asked to leave Monday’s Labor Day Picnic in Riverside Park in part because of the ongoing dispute over security at the Woodbury County Courthouse.

The county has outsourced the jobs, bypassing the Sheriff’s Office. County Board members say it will save taxpayers $70,000 a year in personnel costs, but labor leaders say it’s a contract violation.

Communications Workers of America Local 7177 planned to file a grievance Friday, when the new security detail started, but must wait until this week for a final review by a union attorney.

Todd Trobaugh, Local 7177 president, and other union leaders said Monday they were displeased when Boykin, a Democrat who is seeking re-election, showed up at the picnic.


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Thousands turn out for Dubuque’s annual Labor Day parade


Thousands of people turned out for Dubuque’s annual Labor Day parade on Monday.

Among those marching in the parade were labor unions’ local chapters, youth marching bands and political candidates.

Former Democratic state representative and senator Mike Connolly, from Dubuque, marched in the parade. He said Labor Day is a time to reflect on how labor unions have shaped the American workforce over the years.


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Union Statistics And Labor Day Activities

CEDAR RAPIDS — The number of people belonging to unions across the U.S. hasn’t changed too much. That’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Figures show the percentage of people belonging to unions nationwide was 11.3% in 2013. That represents a total of 14.5 million workers. That’s the same percentage as 2012.


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Labor Day rally in City Park focuses on union issues

State and local politicians met with the public Monday to rally support for labor unions and Iowa Democrats who cited increasing the minimum wage as a priority for Democratic lawmakers.

The event at Upper City Park in Iowa City was organized by the Iowa City Federation of Labor, an affiliation of the AFL-CIO, one of the largest labor unions in the country. Lawmakers and elected officials in attendance included U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, Johnson County supervisors Janelle Rettig and Rod Sullivan, Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness and others.

“So we’ve got quite a few elected officials here,” said Royce Peterson, business representative for Carpenters Local 1260 and Vice President of Iowa City Federation of Laborers. “And that’s what this is about, to come talk about labor issues and bring awareness to labor and solidarity.”

State Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, said the Iowa Legislature in the last year prevented the rollback of state laws that support the formation of labor unions, he said


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Alliance for Retired Americans News

This Labor Day, Let’s Raise America’s Pay – It Will Help with Retirement Saving The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) addresses extremely slow wage growth just in time for Labor Day. Available at, EPI’s paper shows that wages for most … Continue reading

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The State of Working Iowa

By Colin Gordon Senior Research Consultant — Iowa Policy Project Introduction Each year at Labor Day, we survey the “State of Working Iowa.” This annual report card examines trends in wages, job growth, and job quality in Iowa. This fall, … Continue reading

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By the numbers: the state of labor unions in Nebraska, Iowa

End-of-summer cookouts, parades and weekend getaways aside, Labor Day historically is to celebrate organized labor and the American worker.

This holiday, Nebraska unions have more reason to toast than last year.

The Husker state gained labor union membership in 2013, even as Iowa lost membership and the nation as a whole remained the same.

Despite the Husker state’s growth, its proportion of union members still remained smaller than the national average.


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Appel Celebrates Labor Day at AFL-CIO Parade

Democrat honored as “Grand Marshall” at parade with working families DES MOINES – Staci Appel (D-Ackworth) candidate for Congress in the 3rd district, celebrated Labor Day by joining local affiliates of the Iowa Federation of the AFL-CIO and their families … Continue reading

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Cast a vote for Iowa’s workers

This Labor Day, as we head to parades and barbecues to celebrate the achievements of America’s workers, economic anxiety will be hanging over our heads.

Millions of workers across the country are struggling to support their families and are barely scraping by. Wages have not kept pace with productivity and while CEOs, corporate shareholders and the 1 percent are enjoying record profits, many hardworking people struggle to put food on the table and gas in the tank. Working families are frustrated because despite our hard work, our sacrifice and our innovation, too, many of us are not reaping the fruits of our labor.

It’s time to give working families a raise!


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Union group hosts picnic to celebrate N Iowa workers


MASON CITY | Gerald Miller says he never truly appreciated Labor Day.

That was until recent years when his co-workers at Canadian Pacific decided to unionize and he decided to educate himself on the matter.

“I have a better understanding of the labor movement in general,” said the Mason City resident, during a picnic hosted by the Iowa Federation of Labor and North Iowa Nine Labor Council on Monday.

“Labor Day is a good opportunity for us to get together. We all have the same fight,” he said.

Miller is a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Noting that he used to be anti-union, he said he has changed his opinion on the topic.

“It’s a very eye-opening thing,” he said. “It’s not about greed. It’s about trying to get people what they deserve.”


KMIT Coverage

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Labor History

September 01 The Int’l Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers is founded at a meeting in Chicago, the product of two separate brotherhoods created over the previous 13 years – 1893 Congress declares Labor Day a … Continue reading

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Looking back at Labor Day’s turbulent origins

This gallery contains 1 photo.

By Peter Rachleff, Conversations Between the Past and the Present August 19, 2014 Monday, September 1, will mark the 120th celebration of “Labor Day” as a legal, national holiday. What is the history of the “Labor Day” holiday? It had a turbulent, … Continue reading

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More Iowa secret settlements identified; cost rises to $700K

A state audit released today identified 11 more secret settlements made by Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration, pushing the cost to taxpayers up to $700,000.

In total, 42 secret deals with former employees have now been identified since Branstad resumed office in January 2011. That’s nearly double the 24 settlements unveiled by the administration on March 24, following a Des Moines Register investigation that initially identified six questionable settlements.

And with the increased public disclosure, the known cost has grown, too.

SECRET SETTLEMENTS: Previous stories on the investigation

For months, it appeared the confidential settlements cost about $500,000, but that figure has reached at least $696,745, according to the most recent records.

Today’s audit did not uncover more evidence of so-called “hush money” — extra payments made to former employees in exchange for silence.


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Auditor’s report demonstrates need for long-term solution to mismanagement of state agencies

Statement from Senator Petersen, Oversight Committee chair, on the State Auditor’s report on ‘hush money’ and related issues “When the story broke earlier this year about former state employees being offered and paid hush money to keep quiet, few of … Continue reading

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Ernst Position on Renewable Fules and GOP web page

  *UPDATE: has suddenly become ‘temporarily unavailable’ just minutes after drawing criticism for including calls to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard in their official Party Platform under the section,   The timing of the website coming down seems a … Continue reading

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Labor Almost Invisible on TV Talk Sunday chat shows skip worker representatives

8/28/14 As the Labor Day holiday approaches, ask yourself how often you see unions represented on corporate-owned television. On the highest-profile public affairs shows, the answer is basically never. According to a search of the Sunday morning talkshows for this … Continue reading

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