Iowa Senate committee meets tomorrow on Medicaid privatization problems Tuesday, July 26

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Iowa Senate committee meets tomorrow on Medicaid privatization problems   Tuesday, July 26 10 AM – Room 116   DES MOINES — On Tuesday, July 26, the Senate Human Resources Committee will hold a meeting on problems with Iowa Medicaid … Continue reading

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Iowa Providers Still Struggling with Medicaid Privatization

Fewer Services, Rising Costs Cited in New Provider Survey   DES MOINES – A new survey released today finds Iowa Medicaid providers are still struggling under Governor Branstad’s privatization plan, which began earlier this year.  Providers said the privatization plan … Continue reading

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Labor History

July 25 Workers stage a general strike—believed to be the nation’s first—in St. Louis, in support of striking railroad workers. The successful strike was ended when some 3,000 federal troops and 5,000 deputized special police killed at least eighteen people … Continue reading

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Editorial: Trump’s plan to save America is based on fear

trump anti unionFear is a powerful motivator.

No one understands that better than Donald Trump, who has took the stage at Thursday’s Republican National Convention to cast himself not as the most capable and qualified person to lead the country, but as America’s savior.

What else could he do, really?

In almost every respect, Trump is wholly unqualified to lead America and the free world. He has never been elected to office; he lacks a basic understanding of world affairs; he doesn’t have the temperament to deal with members of his own party, let alone leaders of other nations; and he lacks the judgment required of anyone who has access to nuclear launch codes.

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Sign the Pledge: I’ll Volunteer to Stop Trump from Winning in November

sign pledge stop trumpIf we don’t do everything we can now, we might wake up the day after Election Day and find that Donald Trump is our next president and extremist Republicans still control the U.S. Senate. Trump has a clear record of outsourcing and being a union-busting businessman who only cares about himself—and not working people.

He’s said that wages are “too high” and has voiced support for dangerous and unnecessary “right to work” laws. He profits from companies that outsource jobs and he produces his products—like Trump-branded dress shirts—overseas.

click here to sign pledge

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Transgender prison nurse files discrimination complaint against Iowa Department of Corrections | The Gazette

jesseA transgender nurse at the state women’s prison in Mitchellville has filed a civil rights complaint against the Iowa Department of Corrections alleging the agency won’t let him use the men’s restroom and locker room.

Jesse Vroegh, 34, who has worked for the Corrections Department since 2009, also asserts in the complaint filed with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission that the state violated his rights by not providing insurance that covers breast removal surgery.

Vroegh, accompanied by his wife, Jackie, spoke to reporters at a news conference Thursday in Des Moines. He described telling his supervisors at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in March 2014 he was transitioning to living as a man at work.

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Labor History

July 23
Anarchist Alexander Berkman shoots and stabs but fails to kill steel magnate Henry Clay Frick in an effort to avenge the Homestead massacre 18 days earlier, in which nine strikers were killed. Berkman also tried to use what was, in effect, a suicide bomb, but it didn’t detonate – 1892

Northern Michigan copper miners strike for union recognition, higher wages and 8-hour day. By the time they threw in the towel the following April, 1,100 had been arrested on various charges and Western Federation of Miners President Charles Moyer had been shot, beaten and forced out of town – 1913

Aluminum Workers Int’l Union merges with The United Brick & Clay Workers of America to form Aluminum, Brick & Clay Workers – 1981

July 24
The United Auto Workers and the Teamsters form the Alliance for Labor Action (ALA), later to be joined by several smaller unions. The ALA’s agenda included support of the civil rights movement and opposition to the war in Vietnam. It disbanded after four years following the death of UAW President Walter Reuther – 1968
(All Labor Has Dignity: People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. He fought throughout his life to connect the labor and civil rights movements, envisioning them as twin pillars for social reform.)

The U.S. minimum wage increased to $6.55 per hour today. The original minimum, set in 1938 by the Fair Labor Standards Act, was 25¢ per hour – 2008

U.S. minimum wage rose to $7.25 per hour, up from $6.55 – 2009

Union Communication Services

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The Fake Grassley

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Everyone has heard of Chuck Grassley’s 99 County Tour, right? It’s hard not to, as much as he talks about it. But there’s a funny thing about that claim: most of his county events are private and not open to … Continue reading

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Iowa GOP in Cleveland dreams of a Senate grab

iowa flag shape of iowaCLEVELAND — Talk to Iowa’s Republican convention delegation about their presidential nominee, and you might get a smattering of applause. But mention bright prospects for the Iowa GOP taking over the state Senate, and you might get a standing ovation.

Republicans in Iowa control the governor’s office and the Iowa House. The Senate, however, has been in split or full Democratic control for more than a decade. Democrats currently hold a 26-23-1 majority after Sen. David Johnson of Ocheyedan left the GOP in protest rather than jump board the Trump train.

In event after event this week there was talk of taking the Legislature and removing Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal from his post at the Senate gate.

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Labor History

July 22
Newly unionized brewery workers in San Francisco, mostly German socialists, declare victory after the city’s breweries give in to their demands for free beer, the closed shop, freedom to live anywhere (they had typically been required to live in the breweries), a 10-hour day, 6-day week, and a board of arbitration – 1886
(From First Contact to First Contract: A Union Organizer’s Handbook is a no-nonsense tool from veteran labor organizer and educator Bill Barry. He looks to his own vast experience to document and help organizers through all the stages of a unionization campaign, from how to get it off the ground to how to bring it home with a signed contract and a strong bargaining unit.)

A bomb was set off during a “Preparedness Day” parade in San Francisco, killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Tom Mooney, a labor organizer, and Warren Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted of the crime, but both were pardoned 23 years later – 1916

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Today’s Labor Quote: Walter Reuther

Touring a new highly-automated factory, Henry Ford II asked the auto workers president “Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues?”
Reuther replied: “Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?”

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Why Courts Matter Events

Protesters Call Out Senator Grassley for Not Holding Garland Nomination Hearing

FOX Des Moines 9:00 PM News

CBS Sioux City 10:00 PM News
FOX Sioux City 9:00 PM News
LIVE from Des Moines, NBC 6:00 PM News
LIVE from Council Bluffs, ABC 6:00 PM News
CBS Davenport 4:00 PM News
CBS Des Moines 12:00 PM News
ABC Cedar Rapids/Iowa City 11:00 AM News (also ran at 4:00 AM, 6:00 AM & 7:00 AM)
CBS Davenport 8:00 AM News (also ran at 5:00 AM, 6:00 AM & 7:00 AM)
CBS Rochester/Mason City 6:00 AM News (also ran at 4:00 AM & 5:00 AM)
Monday, July 18
ABC Cedar Rapids/Iowa City 5:00 PM News
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Labor History

July 21
Local militiamen are called out against striking railroad workers in Pittsburgh. The head of the Pennsylvania Railroad advises giving the strikers “a rifle diet for a few days and see how they like that kind of bread.” – 1877

Compressed air explosion kills 20 workers constructing railroad tunnel under the Hudson River – 1880

IWW leads a strike at Hodgeman’s Blueberry Farm in Grand Junction, Mich. – 1964

Radio station WCFL, owned and operated by the Chicago Federation of Labor, takes to the airwaves with two hours of music. The first and only labor-owned radio station in the country, WCFL was sold in 1979 – 1926

A die-cast operator in Jackson, Mich., is pinned by a hydraulic Unimate robot, dies five days later. Incident is the first documented case in the U.S. of a robot killing a human – 1984

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Terex closes Waverly plant, moves work to Oklahoma

terexWAVERLY — Some 175 employees of Terex Cranes are out of a job as the Waverly plant ceased operations Tuesday, marking the end of a manufacturing operation that has been a staple of the community for 75 years.

“People are upset; it’s their lives, you know?” said Kent Fisher of Nashua, a 30-year employee and president of United Auto Workers Local 411, whose members heard the news in a plant meeting Tuesday. “They didn’t care about us, evidently. They said the did. They didn’t. We were told we could go home immediately and have to make appointments to pick up our personal items and our tool boxes.”

City Administrator James Bronner said he was notified by company officials of the closing following meetings at the plant Tuesday.

Some 100 unionized manufacturing workers, affiliated with UAW Local 411, were idled immediately, Bronner said, and another 75 nonproduction, nonunion personnel, including commercial office, design-engineering and purchasing team members will be phased out gradually.

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What Union Elections Can Teach Us About Handling Trump’s Lies We need to call out racist demagoguery for what it is.

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Seventy-eight percent of the factual claims made by presidential candidate Donald Trump that were checked by non-partisan Polifact were “mostly false” or worse.  Their report, issued on June 29, rated more of Trump’s statements “pants on fire” than all other candidates combined.
Mr. Trump’s disrespect for the truth brings to mind Justice Anthony Kennedy’s description in a 2012 Supreme Court decision: “Lying was his habit.” And, though it did not concern Trump, United States v. Alvarez, together with the rules governing misrepresentation during union elections, contains important lessons for the current presidential campaign.

The Alvarez decision established the First Amendment right of politicians to lie, a handy right for the presumptive Republican nominee. Striking down the federal Stolen Valor Act, the Court reversed the conviction of a local government official who falsely claimed to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. In ringing terms, the Court declared that the “remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true.… The response to the unreasoned is the rational; to the uninformed, the enlightened; to the straight-out lie, the simple truth.”

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Labor History

July 20
New York City newsboys, many so poor that they were sleeping in the streets, begin a 2-week strike. Several rallies drew more than 5,000 newsboys, complete with charismatic speeches by strike leader Kid Blink, who was blind in one eye. The boys had to pay publishers up front for the newspapers; they were successful in forcing the publishers to buy back unsold papers – 1899
(Kids at Work: Your heart will be broken by this exceptional book’s photographs of children at backbreaking, often life-threatening work, and the accompanying commentary by author Russell Freedman. Photographer Lewis Hine—who himself died in poverty in 1940—did as much, and perhaps more, than any social critic in the early part of the 20th century to expose the abuse of children, as young as three and four, by American capitalism.)

Two killed, 67 wounded in Minneapolis truckers’ strike—”Bloody Friday” – 1934

Postal unions, Postal Service sign first labor contract in the history of the federal government—the year following an unauthorized strike by 200,000 postal workers – 1971

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Woodbury joins other counties in proposing minimum wage increase – The Iowa Daily Democrat

Iowa Once a Leader, Now a Laggard

wage mapA recent United Way study indicated that one in four households in Dakota and Woodbury County are struggling to pay for basic living expenses. Fourteen percent of households in Woodbury live below the federal poverty level and an additional 24% are above the poverty level but still struggling to pay for the very basics – housing, transportation, food, health care and child care, according to the report.

​Heather Jennings, local United Way president noted that these “families live paycheck to paycheck and don’t have any money left to cover unexpected expenses.” This comes on the heels of a recent disclosure by the Pew Research Center that for the first time in decades the middle-class now represents less than 50% of Americans. Clearly, we are losing the middle class.

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Steve King Goes Full Racist – Says Whites Contribute Most To Civilization

king racistWhen news emerged last week that Iowa CongressmanSteve King displays a Confederate flag on his desk in his official office, most had a pretty good idea why. King removed all doubt in an interview today on MSNBC.

The seven-term Congressman from Western Iowa, well-known for often using racially-charged language, joined Chris Hayes for a panel discussion about the Republican convention. They began with King talking about his past support for Ted Cruz, but how the Congressman was encouraged by the people Donald Trump was starting to surround himself with, and how they might influence his thinking on policy.

Then the discussion turned to race. Hayes noted how few people of diverse backgrounds would be addressing the Republican convention. Charles Pierce of Esquire Magazine suggested this would be the last time it would be a nearly all-white speaker lineup for Republicans, and also pointed out how those delegates chanting for Trump today were a bunch of “loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

King clearly took offense to that.

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Rallies on Tuesday, July 19 – the 125th day of obstruction for Merrick Garland, longer than any Supreme Court nominee in U.S. histor

Grassley Supreme Court Obstruction Becomes Longest In American History On Tuesday, Iowa Rallies Planned 125 Days Tuesday Since President Obama Nominated Merrick Garland DES MOINES – The longest time a Supreme Court nominee’s nomination period has ever lasted was 125 … Continue reading

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Labor History

July 18
The Brotherhood of Telegraphers begins an unsuccessful 3-week strike against the Western Union Telegraph Co. – 1883

Some 35,000 Chicago stockyard workers strike – 1919

Hospital workers win 113-day union recognition strike in Charleston, S.C. – 1969

July 19
Women’s Rights Convention opens in Seneca Falls, N.Y.  Delegates adopt a Declaration of Women’s Rights and call for women’s suffrage – 1848

An amendment to the 1939 Hatch Act, a federal law whose main provision prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity, is amended to also cover state and local employees whose salaries include any federal funds – 1940

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