It’s time to raise the wage

IMG_3453Having grown up in poverty and being raised by a single mother, I remember sitting around the kitchen table with my family and having to make tough decisions about how the bills were going to get paid. This is one of the reasons that I have worked so hard as your Congressman to help grow the economy and create high quality, good paying jobs here in Iowa.

But we need to do more. Working families who are earning the minimum wage can no longer meet the basic standards of living. We must raise the minimum wage and make sure it adjusts to the cost of living.

I have been working since I came to Congress to raise the minimum wage. In fact, I was honored to support increasing the federal minimum wage to $7.25 the last time Congress acted on it in 2009. Unfortunately, it hasn’t changed since. In these tough economic times, far too many Iowa families are working hard, but still struggling to make ends meet. We must raise the minimum wage so hardworking Iowa families can maintain a basic standard of living.

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Wage Theft in Iowa: An Invisible Epidemic

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        Exposure, Enforcement Needed to Protect Iowa Workers’ Paychecks See our full report (30-page PDF) Executive summary (2-page PDF) This news release (2-page PDF) IOWA CITY, Iowa (August 27, 2012) — Too many Iowans are not being … Continue reading

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County supervisors approve first reading of wage increase

minimum wage poverty2In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors approved the first consideration of an ordinance that would raise the county’s minimum wage.

Three votes are required for final passage of the ordinance, which would increase the county’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by 2017 in three 95-cent increments and tie future raises to annual increases in the Consumer Price Index.

“This is another historic day in Johnson County and certainly for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors,” Supervisor Terrence Neuzil said.

Supervisors have been debating a wage raise since July, citing Johnson County’s 18 percent poverty rate and high cost of living compared to the rest of the state.

“We have more people than anywhere else in the state that pay more than 30 percent of their take-home pay in rent,” said Supervisor Mike Carberry.

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Labor History

letter carrier femaleAugust 29
Sixty letter carriers from 18 states meet in a room above Schaefer’s Saloon on Plankinton Avenue in Milwaukee. They unanimously adopt a resolution to form a National Association of Letter Carriers – 1889

Seventy-five workers die when the lower St. Lawrence River’s Quebec Bridge collapses while under construction. A flawed design was found to be the cause. Thirteen more workers were killed nine years later when the reconstructed bridge’s central span was being raised and fell into the river because of a problem with hoisting devices – 1907

Dancers at San Francisco’s Lusty Lady Club vote 57-15 to be represented by SEIU Local 790. Their first union contract, ratified eight months later, guaranteed work shifts, protection against arbitrary discipline and termination, automatic hourly wage increases, sick days, a grievance procedure, and removal of one-way mirrors from peep show booths – 1996

Northwest Airlines pilots, after years of concessions to help the airline, begin what is to become a 2-week strike for higher pay – 1998

Delegates to the Minnesota AFL-CIO convention approve the launching of workdayminnesota.org, now in its fourteenth year. It was the first web-based daily labor news service by a state labor federation – 2000

2015.08.24 history osha.cardAugust 30
Delegates from several East Coast cities meet in convention to form the National Trades’ Union, uniting craft unions to oppose “the most unequal and unjustifiable distribution of the wealth of society in the hands of a few individuals.” The union faded after a few years – 1834

President Franklin Roosevelt’s Wealth Tax Act increases taxes on rich citizens and big business, lowers taxes for small businesses – 1935

OSHA publishes scaffold safety standard, designed to protect 2.3 million construction workers and prevent 50 deaths and 4,500 injuries annually – 1996

Union Communication Services

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Some facts and history about the labor movement:

Today, Labor Day is an opportunity to spend time with loved ones at a barbecue or picnic, take a trip or to just relax. In all the fun we often forget the struggle that working Americans endured and the victories … Continue reading

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NLRB Joint Employer Decision Reflects True Nature of Today’s Economy

  nlrb3

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the National Labor Relations Board decision on Browning-Ferris Industries of Pennsylvania, Inc.:

This decision may very well signal the beginning of the end of outdated laws that fail to address an economic structure tilted against working people. It means more working people can engage in meaningful collective bargaining by bringing all parties who control their wages and other conditions of employment to the table.

Simply put, labor laws in America have failed to keep pace as the workplace has continued to evolve. This is one of many sensible, new avenues that can help bring workplace laws into the 21st century and reflect the true nature of today’s economy.

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Retirement pre-funding puts Postal Service in red

mailboxsLawmakers should address the pre-funding fiasco so the Postal Service can innovate and thrive

At the beginning of the Internet age, some predicted that the U.S. Postal Service would be rendered obsolete. As more people communicated online, the Postal Service — funded by earned revenue, not by taxpayers — would face declining revenue.

As more people in Iowa and elsewhere shop online, package revenue is skyrocketing. Amazon.com has the Post Office expanding seven days a week; in some places the USPS even delivers groceries to customers. All this makes the Internet a net positive.

After the first three quarters of fiscal year 2015, the Postal Service has a $1.2 billion operating profit, compared with $1 billion this time last year.

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America

reality tv republicans

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Labor History

August 27
Some 14,000 Chicago teachers who have gone without pay for several months finally collect about $1,400 each – 1934

President Truman orders the U.S. Army to seize all the nation’s railroads to prevent a general strike. The railroads were not returned to their owners until two years later – 1950

August 28
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom—the Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have A Dream” speech march—is held in Washington, D.C., with 250,000 participating. The AFL-CIO did not endorse the march, but several affiliated unions did – 19632015.08.24 history mlk.march
(Martin Luther King, Jr., and the March on Washington: Written for 5 to 8 year-olds, this is a very nice introduction to Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, that watershed event in the fight for civil rights. It uses the March as a point of reference as it talks about segregation in America and the battle for equal rights.)

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Are you excited for the Progress Iowa Corn Feed on Sunday? We are!

We’re expecting a great crowd, and there’s still time to buy your tickets — click here to purchase today! If you already have your tickets, here’s what to expect on Sunday: GREAT SPEAKERS: Senator Tom Harkin, Governor Lincoln Chafee, Representatives Dave … Continue reading

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Editorial: Feds should stop Medicaid privatization

medicaid-expansionAbout 550,000 low-income Iowans rely on Medicaid health insurance. The program, administered by the state, has low administrative costs. It has held down spending by reimbursing providers modestly, reducing fraud and giving seniors alternatives to expensive nursing homes. Medicaid in Iowa spends less per person than the majority of other states, while still providing comprehensive coverage.

Unfortunately, Republicans have never met a government program they didn’t want to privatize. And Gov. Terry Branstad is a Republican.

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The Yes Men pose as members of the Iowa Regents’ efficiency review committee

tierThe Yes Men delivered a satirical speech today at the Iowa City Public Library wherein they posed as representatives of the Iowa Regents, as well as the private consulting firm that is doing the University of Iowa’s “efficiency review” (called TIER — “Transparent Inclusive Efficiency Review”).

The action was in response to a lack of faculty governance and divisive decision-making on behalf of the Iowa Board of Regents. Just recently, for instance, the Regents dissolved the campus-based search committee for the University of Iowa’s new school president and outsourced it to another firm that will handle the interviews.

According to UI Lecture Committee member (LV columnist, and mischief-maker) Kembrew McLeod, the presentation was put together with the help of faculty, staff, adjuncts and students.

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Ongoing Fight for Construction Worker Safety

working lives matter kono wmd 2015Local residents are gathering tonight to remember construction workers killed each year because of poor safety procedures. The Quad Cities Coalition for Worker Justice will hold a prayer vigil in Rock Island, to support employees of Hy-Brand Industrial Contracts.
Spokesman for the coalition, Vince DiDonato, says Hy-Brand is a firm based in Muscatine, and owned by Brandt Construction in Milan. And, workers have filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, for multiple violations of federal safety regulations– including a lack of adequate fall protection

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UI may not be subject to county minimum wage ordinance

university of iowaAs Johnson County officials move forward with a minimum wage ordinance, it is unclear whether the largest employer in the county — the University of Iowa — would be subject to the policy.

“Because we are a state agency, university attorneys do not believe we would be subject to such a rule,” UI spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said Friday. “However, if the ordinance is adopted, we will ask for an opinion from the Attorney General’s office.”

A majority of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors support an ordinance calling for raising the minimum wage in the county from the current $7.25 an hour to $8.20 on Nov. 1, $9.15 on May 1, 2016, and $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2017. The measure — which would be the first of its kind in Iowa — could be approved as early as next month.

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Levitt Lecture with NPR Correspondent Nina Totenberg.

totenWednesday, September 9, 5:00 pm

 

Iowa Memorial Union Main Lounge, Iowa City

 

The Public Policy Center is proud to co-sponsor the Fall 2015 Law Levitt Lecture with NPR Correspondent Nina Totenberg.

 

Totenberg is an award-winning legal affairs correspondent for National Public Radio whose reports are heard on All Things Considered and Morning Edition.  A frequent contributor to major newspapers and periodicals, she has published articles in the New York Times Magazine, the Harvard Law Review, the Christian Science Monitor, Parade magazine, New York magazine, and others.

 

Before joining NPR in 1975, Totenberg served as Washington editor of New Times Magazine, and before that she was the legal affairs correspondent for the National Observer.

 

The event is free and open to the public.

 

 

 

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Leslie Gannon at (319) 335-6817 or leslie-gannon@uiowa.edu.

 

 

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Help AFGE get TSA officers rights

tsaTSA’s Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are responsible for screening passengers and bags at our nation’s airports. They perform their duties with professionalism and dedication, but, compared to nearly every other federal employee, TSOs are compensated on a lesser pay scale and are denied the same workplace protections and due process rights.  

It is unjust to continue to ask these officers to perform their critical and dangerous duties while not allowing them equivalence with their fellow federal employees, including protection and guidelines outlined by the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and Office of Personnel Management guidelines.

Help AFGE petition the White House to eliminate this unfair discrepancy by granting GS scale pay and full Title 5 rights and protections to all TSA officers by executive action: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov//petition/grant-tsa-officers-same-rights-other-federal-employees.

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1,000 Rubber Duckies for Gov. Branstad

rubber ducksGov. Terry Branstad is now the owner of 1,000 rubber ducks.

The liberal advocacy group Progress Iowa gave Branstad the bath toys to protest his vetoing of one-time education funding and the closing two mental health institutions. At the same time, Branstad has worked with private donors to build a reflecting pool at Terrace Hill, the governor’s official residence.

“He has slashed funding for public schools, mental health institutes, and for our colleges and universities, all while there has been private dollars raised for a reflecting pool at the governor’s mansion” says Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “So these rubber duckies, whether he uses them in his pool, or where ever he wants in his mansion, they hopefully will be a reminder to him that needs to fund our public services and keep them afloat.”

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Deere, UAW begin talks on contract covering 10,000 workers

uawDeere & Co. and the United Auto Workers have started negotiations on a new master labor agreement that covers about 10,000 manufacturing workers at 12 facilities, including plants in five Iowa cities.

The Moline, Ill.,-based farm and construction equipment manufacturer said Tuesday the current six-year master agreement expires at midnight Sept. 30.

In Iowa, the contract covers factory workers at the Davenport Works, Des Moines Works, Dubuque Works, Ottumwa Works and Waterloo Works, as well as three other plants in Waterloo — its tractor and cab assembly, engine works and foundry. The Illinois plants include the Harvester Works in East Moline.

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The 24th Annual East Central Iowa – Northwestern Illinois AFL-CIO Hall of Fame Banquet is set for Friday October 23rd.

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The purpose of this event is to honor those in the Labor Movement who have most faithfully embodied the spirit of solidarity and given their working years to the cause of justice at the workplace and gone above and beyond … Continue reading

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Medicaid Shift “a train wreck waiting to happen”

Des Moines, Iowmedicaid stetha – The state is moving relatively quietly toward one of the most massive shifts in government in memory, turning the massive Medicaid program over to private health care providers.

Gov. Terry Branstad and other backers of the change argue the state can save about $50 million by having private companies offer the services, but critics say there are only two ways to save that kind of money: cut services or cut the number of people being served.

“I am not going to say the Medicaid system is perfect,” said Senate President Pam Jochum, of Dubuque. “This is simply not a good idea; it’s a train wreck waiting to happen.”

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