Area programs turn used license plates into money for local charities

iowa city fed platesThe recycled plates have generated about $35,000 over the last decade

Alison Gowans, The Gazette

January 27, 2015 | 7:50 pm

Iowa drivers go through a lot of license plates.

Every month, Johnson County Treasurer Thomas Kriz’s office collects hundreds of used license plates, filling dozens of boxes.

That’s a lot of metal that could end up in the landfill, or in the hands of criminals who use discarded plates in thefts, Kriz said. Instead, a partnership between the county and volunteers at the Iowa City Federation of Labor turns the used license plates into money for local non-profits.

The group meets periodically to sort the collected plates and transport them to scrap metal company Marion Iron, where they are shredded and recycled. Scrap metal prices change frequently, but Kriz said each plate typically brings in 10 to 12 cents.


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Steve King Introduces National Right to Work Act to End Forced Union Dues for Workers

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National Right to Work President applauds legislation that would prevent union officials from extracting union dues from workers as a condition of employment Washington, DC (January 29, 2015) –Today, Congressman Steve King (Republican-Iowa) along with 76 cosponsors introduced the National … Continue reading

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Working America Health Care for America

Recommended Health Care From a Name You Trust

Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, brings together millions of people to advocate for strong communities and an economy that works for everyone.

As part of Working America, working people get a chance to be heard in the political debate and make positive changes in their communities. And through the past decade, expanding access to health care has been one of our top priorities.

Tens of thousands of Working America members have taken action on health care. And through our letters and phone calls, we helped win health care reform.

Now, we’re making sure that everyone can make the most of the newly-available health care benefits and get the coverage they need.

- See more at: am health care

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QC union president: “we will oppose every measure” on right-to-work zones

Video Link: In his speech in Decatur, Illinois on Tuesday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said “right-to-work zones” are a priority for his first year in office. “I want local voter control of this issue so we can have economic … Continue reading

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Opening Comments by State Rep. Patti Ruff on 6% Supplemental State Aid

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Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our amendment will set supplemental state aid at 6%. This amount wasn’t plucked out of thin air. This is the number that all public school organizations are asking for — school boards, teachers, administrators, urban and … Continue reading

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Governor, you are right: State support for Iowa students needs to catch up to our competitors

Posted: 26 Jan 2015 06:43 AM PST Open Letter to Governor Branstad from Senator Herman Quirmbach, Chair of the Senate Education Committee Dear Governor Branstad, Last Thursday, you told the Iowa State Board of Education, “We were complacent for too long, … Continue reading

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Representative Hunter – Bring Back the Middle Class

Thank you Mister Speaker. Ladies and Gentlemen of the House, I would like to welcome you to the 2015 Session of the 87th General Assembly. Over the past couple of days we have heard from the Speaker, the Majority Leader … Continue reading

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Let’s rebuild America

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By Sen. Bernie Sanders – 01/26/15 08:21 PM EST Our infrastructure is collapsing, and the American people know it. Every day, they drive on roads with unforgiving potholes, over bridges that are in disrepair and wait in traffic jams on … Continue reading

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Editorial: Invest more in K-12 education

cap domeIowa Gov. Terry Branstad is just a year away from being the longest serving governor in U.S. history. Over the course of his six terms, overspending hasn’t been a problem. Fiscal conservativism has been the administration’s method of operation since the governor took office in 1983. It’s one of the many reasons USA Today named Iowa as one of the top five “best-run” states in December 2014.

But what may be good for the budget statements at the end of the year, the box score of money spent versus money earned, doesn’t necessarily mean all has been accounted for.

Many of the cuts in public funding that the state government has made over the last decade affected educators and families alike.

On Tuesday, the Iowa House passed a 1.25 percent increase in K-12 public-school funding, an estimated increase of $48 million for the next academic year.


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Worker Wins Update: From the Casino to the Classroom, Workers Earn Critical Victories

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WASHINGTON, DC – Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.   Casino Workers Hit Jackpot With Major Organizing Wins: More than 12,000 workers have organized through UNITE HERE … Continue reading

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Labor History

January 27 New York City maids organize to improve working conditions – 1734 Mine explosion in Mount Pleasant, Pa., leaves more than 100 dead – 1891 First meeting of the Int’l Labor Organization (ILO) – 1920 Kansas miners strike against … Continue reading

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AFL-CIO, Allies Award Grants to Innovating Community Organizers

The LIFT Fund is the first-of-its-kind to support collaboration and innovation around new forms of worker organizing.   (Washington, DC, Jan. 29, 2015)— Today, the AFL-CIO announced the third round of LIFT Fund grants, which will be awarded to a … Continue reading

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Iowa Wage Theft Victims Speak Out

Jan. 27, 2015 Two key state senators are working on legislation to fight Iowa’s biggest crime spree: the $600 million in wages stolen from Iowa workers each year. Valentine Ruiz of Conesville tells a Statehouse news conference of his ongoing … Continue reading

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ALEC Watch: New Report Details Impact of Secretive Organization, Empowers Iowans to Take Action

Read the full report: Des Moines, Iowa — Progress Iowa released a new research report today, entitled ALEC Watch. The report provides research about the background of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and details the organization’s influence … Continue reading

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Iowa JobWatch: Positive Note Ends Soft Year

100630-ipp-logo-cert545,000 Job Deficit Remains in Iowa’s Sluggish Recovery

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Jan. 27, 2015) — Iowa nonfarm jobs rose in December as the unemployment rate fell from 4.3 percent to 4.1 percent. The Iowa Policy Project released the following statement from Executive Director Mike Owen:

“The small increase in December keeps Iowa’s job picture in a slow-growth mode that has prevailed throughout the recovery from the Great Recession.

“Iowa’s economy added a net 2,100 jobs in December — leaving the average monthly job growth in 2014 at about 1,400. That’s about 1 percent growth over the year. Iowa’s monthly average growth in 2014 was its lowest in four years. (Monthly averages were 2,500, 1,600 and 1,700 the last three years, and 1,000 in 2010.)

“The unemployment rate has dropped half a percentage point since September, when it stood at 4.6 percent. Both the labor force and the number of Iowans reporting employment have grown in that period.
“While the latest numbers are positive, Iowa’s payroll jobs are short of what is needed to fully recover from the recession. Accounting for population growth, we remain almost 45,000 jobs behind where jobs stood at the start of the recession seven years ago.”

The Iowa Policy Project (IPP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research and analysis organization in Iowa City. IPP has issued monthly job reports since 2003. IPP analysis is available at

Key Numbers

—    Nonfarm jobs rose in December to 1,560,600, from 1,558,500 in November. Nonfarm jobs are 16,400 ahead of where they stood a year earlier.
—    The unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent from 4.3 percent in November  and 4.5 percent in October. It was 4.2 percent in December 2013.
—    The labor force — those working or looking for work — rose by 400 from November to 1,713,900 but was up 38,200 over 12 months.
—    Initial unemployment claims were 29,285 in December, up 73 percent from November and down about 5 percent over the year. The number of continuing claims — 35,632 — was up 61 percent for the month and 6 percent for the year.
—    Five major job sectors showed gains and five showed losses in December, with manufacturing at 1,600 and professional and business services at 1,500 leading the gains. Trade, transportation and utilities dropped 1,000 and government dropped 900 during the month.

Key Trends
—    Nonfarm jobs are 32,600 ahead of the May 2008 peak of 1,528,000, and 35,700 ahead of the level at the start of the last recession in December 2007.
—    Nonfarm jobs have increased in eight of the last nine months.
—    Manufacturing at 2,600, trade, transportation and utilities at 1,900, leisure and hospitality at 600 and information at 500 have lost more jobs than they have gained over the past 12 months.
—    Construction jobs are up about 7 percent (4,700) over the 12 months, while the professional and business services, education and health services, government, financial activities and other services sectors also show 12-month net gains.

Job Growth Perspective
While Iowa nonfarm jobs show a net gain for each of the last five years, and are 35,700 ahead of where they stood at the start of the last recession in 2007, Iowa has a jobs deficit. That is because when 5.3 percent population growth is factored in, Iowa should have added 80,200 jobs over that time span. In that computation, by the Economic Policy Institute, Iowa’s job deficit is 44,500.


Mike Owen
Executive Director

20 E. Market St. • Iowa City, IA 52245
(319) 338-0773(319) 331-1287 cell

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republicans turn back school funding plan supported by iowa schools, teachers, & Parents

Des Moines, Iowa – On a straight party line vote, House Republicans turned back a school funding plan supported by school officials, teachers, and parents.


“I’m disappointed that House Republicans have stopped listening to our local school leaders, parents, and teachers.  Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard from Iowans across the state that the Republican school funding plan shortchanges our children and will shortchange Iowa’s future,” said Rep. Patti Ruff, Ranking Member of the House Education Committee.


Republicans in the Iowa House voted down the school funding plan supported by educators that provides a 6% increase in basic state aid.


Instead, Republicans want to provide only a 1.25% increase in school aid next year. If signed in to law, the Republican plan would force 48% of Iowa school districts to raise property taxes and drop Iowa to 40th nationally in per student state funding.

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ALEC Watch: Local Leaders to Discuss ALEC’s Influence in the Iowa Legislature

New research report to be released, detailing ALEC’s impact in Iowa   Des Moines, Iowa — Local leaders will speak out on Tuesday, January 27th about the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and its influence on Iowa’s legislative process. … Continue reading

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1 Percenters Biggest Gainers in Iowa

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In 39 states, majority of income growth went to the top from 2009-12 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MONDAY, JANUARY 26, 2015 See this release or an Iowa fact sheet IOWA CITY, Iowa — The top 1 percent of earners captured almost … Continue reading

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100 Years Old Today: The Story Behind ‘Solidarity Forever’

solidarity foreverOn a windblown, gray Chicago day exactly 100 years ago today, Ralph Chaplin left his home on the city’s South Side for a raucous poor people’s rally at Hull House, the famed settlement house co-founded by Jane Addams. He asked a visiting friend he’d met organizing coal miners with Mother Jones to listen to the lyrics of a new tune he had been working on:

“Solidarity Forever,

Solidarity Forever,

Solidarity Forever,

For the union makes us strong!”

The self-described Chicago “stiff” and “rebel editor” merely wanted to write a song that could be for workers what “John Brown’s Body” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic” were for abolitionists. In fact, he borrowed the very melody.

One hundred years later, despite the rise and precipitous fall of workers’ movements in the U.S., Chaplin’s song is a classic still widely sung with fists raised and demands for justice submitted. It’s an international and national anthem, regularly belted out by “Occupy” and sung every weekday by crowds from 20 to 100 protesters at the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda.


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Union-Made Super Bowl Party Shopping List

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On Super Bowl Sunday next week, some of our larger and faster union brothers—members of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA)—will be battling it out in Glendale, Ariz., at Super Bowl XLIX (49 for those of us who are shaky on … Continue reading

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