IOWA CITY – Low-wage workers and allies will gather Thursday to highlight how local community members are taking action to defend workers’ rights and immigrant families in the face of state and national threats. The Center for Worker Justice will release a printed guide celebrating approximately 150 businesses who’ve pledged to honor the Johnson County $10.10 minimum wage that state legislators rolled back in March.
The event coincides with the two-year anniversary of the county’s passage of a minimum wage increase, in response to appeals by a diverse coalition of low-wage workers, unions, and faith leaders. On the heels of last week’s nationwide fast food strikes demanding “$15 and a Union,” speakers will link the need for higher wages with the importance of defending workers’ rights to organize unions, and protecting civil and workplace rights of immigrant workers. Speakers will include a school employee facing a state-mandated union election in October and a local DACA recipient.
WHAT: Unite for Worker Justice rally
WHEN: 5:00 pm, Thursday, September 14
WHERE: Iowa City Pedestrian Mall (Fountain Stage)
WHO: Speakers will include local workers, immigrant rights advocates, clergy, Iowa Policy Project, and elected officials. Free and open to the public.
The event, sponsored by the Center for Worker Justice, the Iowa City Federation of Labor, Iowa City Democratic Socialists of America, and students from Iowa Action will include public education along with testimonials from workers, immigrant rights advocates, faith and labor leaders, an Iowa Policy Project researcher, and elected officials, as well as a creative demonstration of extreme wealth inequality in the U.S In response to widespread concern over Johnson County’s 18% poverty rate and the failure of wages to keep up with the local cost of living, county supervisors unanimously voted in 2015 to boost the minimum wage in steps to $10.10 on January 1, 2017. In March, the Iowa legislature passed a law prohibiting local minimum wage increase and cutting the minimum wage for all counties back to $7.25. Over the past 6 months, the Center for Worker Justice has reached out to hundreds of businesses who have voluntarily pledged to continue to honor the county minimum wage and display a $10.10 sign in their window. Meanwhile, CWJ has joined with unions and community allies to protest devastating changes to Iowa’s public sector collective bargaining law last spring, and worked with local officials to defend the rights of immigrant families against policies announced under the Trump administration.