Labor History

April 25 The New York Times declares the struggle for an 8-hour workday to be “un-American” and calls public demonstrations for the shorter hours “labor disturbances brought about by foreigners.” Other publications declare that an eight-hour workday day would bring … Continue reading

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Wages are 3.1 Percent Lower in “Right to Work” States

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Annual wages in RTW states are $1558 lower for a typical full-time worker April 22, 2015 Wages are 3.1 percent lower in so-called “right to work” (RTW) states, for union and nonunion workers alike—after correctly accounting for differences in cost … Continue reading

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Worker’s Memorial Day Events around Iowa

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Worker’s Memorial Day Events around Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO Safe Jobs save lives, keep the promise alive Cedar Rapids: April 28, 5:30 pm. IBEW Local 405 Hall, 1211 Wiley Blvd SW. Speakers: Kelly Steinke, President of Hawkeye Labor Council; … Continue reading

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Iowa State Education Association delivers more than 2,000 messages to the Capitol

Education groups hold “off-site” lobby day to demonstrate public support for increased education funding DES MOINES, IA (04/22/2015)(readMedia)– The Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) delivered more than 2,000 email messages today to Governor Branstad and House Republican Leaders from educators, … Continue reading

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School budget fight spills over to community colleges

cap domeWhile lawmakers remain stalemated on funding for public school districts, an increase in funding for community colleges also remains in limbo in the Iowa Legislature.

Support for prekindergarten through 12th-grade school systems is the biggest chunk of the state budget, and a protracted debate about how much the state can afford to grow that investment has stalled approval of the budget.

Community colleges and other institutions of higher education are uncertain how much they will receive going forward, although budgets have already been made for how to spend projected revenue for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

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MHI workers dispute the ‘antiquated’ label attached to the facilities

mental health instituteFour employees at the state-run Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant testified before the Iowa Senate Oversight Committee Wednesday, disputing the governor’s assertion that their facilities are antiquated.

Sue Rehwaldt-Hays is an occupational therapist who has worked at the Clarinda MHI since 1984. She said, just like the Iowa statehouse, the facility in Clarinda has been updated with recent renovations like new windows, new furniture and a fire alarm system that’s still being installed.

“You can do a lot of treatment and you can care for a lot of people in an old building and you can make a lot of decisions in an old building,” Rehwaldt-Hays said

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Labor History

April 24
The Int’l Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union halts shipping on the West Coast in solidarity with Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Philadelphia journalist who many believed was on death row because he was an outspoken African-American – 1999

An eight-story building housing garment factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapses, killing 1,129 workers and injuring 2,515. A day earlier cracks had been found in the structure, but factory officials, who had contracts with Benneton and other major U.S. labels, insisted the workers return to the job the next day – 2013

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House GOP budget “devastating” to Iowa’s middle class families

Statement by Senator Bob Dvorsky, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee   “The budget targets released today by the Republican leaders of the Iowa House would be a devastating blow to Iowa’s families.  House Republicans appear determined to needlessly deny … Continue reading

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Lee County Labor Council Worker’s Memorial Day Tribute

lee county wmd 2015Pictured is a memorial on display at the Fort Madison Labor Center. Listed are the names and workplaces of Iowan’s killed on the job in 2014. Workers’ Memorial Day is observed every year on April 28. It is a day to honor those workers who have died on the job, to acknowledge the grievous suffering experienced by families and communities, and to recommit ourselves to the fight for safe and healthful workplaces for all workers. Special thanks to Gary Mortimer of USW 3311 volunteering his time to make the display.

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Worker Wins Update: April Showers Bring Big Wins For Workers

WASHINGTON, DC – Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.   Harvard Hotel Workers Make Smart Choice to Organize: Following a two year campaign, workers at the Soldiers … Continue reading

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Waterloo activists join fight against proposed trade agreement 1 Print Email

Šî–{ RGBWATERLOO | For a couple of Waterloo activists, there’s a lot not to like about a proposed international trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But among their biggest concerns is a lack of transparency about just what would be in the negotiated deal.

“I’m really concerned about the Congress not being able to take a good look at this, amend it on behalf of us,” Steve Abbott, a Waterloo resident and president of the Communications Workers of America Iowa State Council, said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg what could happen to small towns in Iowa that had manufacturing sectors, service sectors, even call centers.”

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Democrats defend civil rights, Medicaid and education from Republican attacks

iowa cap at nightDemocrats have long fought to protect the most vulnerable among us, fought for the future of our children, and stood up for the rights of all citizens. That fighting spirit was on display this past week under the Golden Dome as Democratic legislators in both the House and Senate stood up for all Iowa residents.

On Monday, April 13, Rep. Bruce Hunter (D-Polk) set the tone for the week. Rep. Steven Holt (R-Crawford) spoke about religion freedom during a point of personal privilege. Calling on Thomas Jefferson’s view of religious liberty, Holt spoke about the nation’s infringement on religious beliefs (remarks start at 28:33). He gave the example of Memories Pizza, a pizza shop brought into the limelight after Indiana passed its controversial religious freedom law.

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Helping veterans access the benefits they’ve earned

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Our veterans deserve to know all the services, benefits and programs they qualify for. House File 414 will help them more easily access information on ways to apply for benefits they have earned through their military service. The Senate and … Continue reading

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Labor History

April 23
Songwriter, musician and activist Hazel Dickens dies at age 75. Among her songs: “They’ll Never Keep Us Down” and “Working Girl Blues.” Cultural blogger John Pietaro: “Dickens didn’t just sing the anthems of labor, she lived them. Her place on many a picket line, staring down gunfire and goon squads, embedded her into the cause” – 2011

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is founded through a merger of the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC) and the Canadian Congress of Labour (CCL), the two major union congresses in Canada at the time. The CLC represents the interests of more than three million affiliated workers – 1956

2015.04.20 history stullDeath of Ida Mae Stull, nationally recognized as the country’s first woman coal miner – 1980

United Farm Workers of America founder Cesar Chavez dies in San Luis, Ariz., at age 66 – 1993

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Iowa JobWatch: Stronger pace in nonfarm jobs March gives payroll jobs six-month positive string — jobless rate down to 4 percent

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa nonfarm jobs showed their sixth-straight monthly gain with revised figures for February and a stronger overall performance in March, according to the latest estimates from Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. … Continue reading

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Around the corner: Larger class sizes and higher property taxes

219 GOP Pink Slips to Teachers; Another 332 Positions Unfilled Next Year Web Page Launched on School Funding Crisis According to a survey of Iowa Superintendents, at least 219 teachers will receive pink slips this month and another 332 school … Continue reading

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Iowa Medicaid plan is full of empty promises

medicaidUnder the governor’s plan for Medicaid modernization, the state and federal governments will spend more than $4 billion to manage and implement health services for Iowans on Medicaid. This is one-half of the state’s entire budget. The governor has claimed that the state will save $51 million in the first six months of managed care. These savings must be devoted to ensuring that the transition to managed care is carefully planned, taxpayer money is effectively spent and services are maintained.

Disability Rights Iowa, the Iowa Olmstead Task Force and the undersigned organizations representing children and adults with disabilities or mental illness, including the elderly, plan on petitioning the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to deny Iowa’s application for a managed care waiver until comprehensive and transparent oversight systems are in place and shared with the public.

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School funding fits into state budget plans

Senate Democrats continue to get public support for our compromise proposal to increase basic school funding next school year by 2.625 percent. That’s exactly halfway between the original Senate and House proposals. Unfortunately, legislative Republicans refuse to budge, despite widespread … Continue reading

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OUR OPINION: Stand up for decent wages or watch the middle class melt away

save middle classDes Moines, Iowa – As tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in the “fight for $15″ this week, the country’s low-wage workers took center stage.

Iowa is ground zero for this battle – or should be.  Democrats must pick up the mantle and fight for decent wages, or watch the growth of the middle class over the last century be slowly and painfully reversed.

Not only is Iowa the host of the kickoff Presidential nominating contests, it’s also a traditionally low-wage state in which seasonal agricultural jobs have dragged down the average wage.  Long gone are skilled factory jobs that put boats in the driveways of high school educated workers.  In their place are high turnover service jobs that young people are lucky to get, luckier to keep.

The unlucky ones often find themselves required to purchase uniforms, barred from overtime and forced to work without breaks in debilitating conditions.  Wage theft is one of the fastest growing ways Iowans are robbed of hard-earned dollars.

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State spending inequity: An insidious shift in priorities

school houseIf the people of Iowa could vote on where to increase state spending, they probably would put education and natural resources at the top of the list.

Yet the Legislature’s priorities aren’t always the same as the public’s. This year, schools will be stiffed even as Iowa’s once-vaunted education system sinks further into mediocrity. The lands and waters will get only the budgetary leftovers, as usual, and Iowa’s outdoor amenities will remain embarrassingly minimal.

Then lawmakers will be less than truthful about why they failed to invest strongly in the two areas that are most crucial to Iowa’s future. “There just wasn’t enough money for schools and clean water,” they’ll say. They’ve already started making that excuse.

What makes it untrue is that the paucity of funds didn’t just happen. Lawmakers over the years chose to make it so.

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