“2018 session poses threat to Iowa retirees”

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  Iowa Senate News Release State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald: (515) 281-5368 State Senator Matt McCoy: (515) 681-9327 For Immediate Release: December 11, 2017   “2018 session poses threat to Iowa retirees”   (Des Moines) Today two Iowa Statehouse leaders today … Continue reading

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Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: Lutie Lytle “I like constitutional law because the anchor of my race is grounded on the constitution. It is the certificate of our liberty and our equality before the law. Our citizenship is based on it, … Continue reading

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“2018 session poses threat to Iowa retirees”


“2018 session poses threat to Iowa retirees”


 State of Iowa Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald

 Senator Matt McCoy, member of the Iowa Legislature’s Public Retirement Systems Committee

 The two statehouse leaders will express concerns that abrupt changes for Iowa’s public retirement systems could occur during the 2018 session.

One week later, on November 18, the Iowa Legislature’s “Public Retirement Systems Committee” will evaluates Iowa’s public retirement systems, including Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS), the Municipal Fire and Police Retirement System of Iowa (Iowa Code chapter 411), the Department of Public Safety Peace Officers’ Retirement System (PORS), and the Judicial Retirement System.

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IPERS’ unfunded pension liabilities rise to nearly $7 billion

The unfunded liability of Iowa’s largest public employees’ pension fund has increased to almost $7 billion amid recent actuarial changes that reflect lowered expectations for future investment gains, according to a report issued Thursday.

The changes are one factor behind higher contribution rates for the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System starting July 1, 2018, that will raise annual pension expenses by $42.4 million for state and local governments and by $28.4 million for public employees.

Winneshiek County Treasurer Wayne Walter, who chairs the IPERS’ Investment Board, said the unfunded liability is primarily a result of 12 years of underfunding that was addressed by the Iowa Legislature in 2010 by making reforms in benefits and contribution rates. But changes in economic assumptions approved earlier this year have had a more recent impact.

“The unfunded liability is higher than we would like, but it will get better and we are doing something about it,” Walter said.


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Join the movement!

Did you know…

Women make up 51% of Iowa’s population, but only 12.9% of the state House
and 16.19% of the state Senate…
Iowa has never had a female congressperson nor a female Democratic senator…

Have you been wanting to make a difference to help change the above facts
but haven’t found the right opportunity?

Today is the day for you and people you know to get involved!

Emerge America is officially launching in the state of Iowa and will offer intensive training, recruiting and mentoring for Democratic women seeking elective office. With your help, we can build our capacity to quickly
recruit, train and inspire Democratic women in Iowa to run and win!

Please join the Emerge America team and fellow community members
for these exciting informational sessions.

Davenport, December 10 – RSVP here
Dubuque, December 11 – RSVP here
Iowa City, December 12 – RSVP here
Cedar Rapids, December 13 – RSVP here

These are closed events and RSVPs are required for all informational sessions.

Emerge America is a national organization that is changing the face of power, the face of politics, and the face of leadership in this country by recruiting, training, and providing a powerful network for Democratic women running for public office. We believe Democratic policies are more responsive to all people when elected officials better reflect and represent all Americans.

Since our founding, Emerge has trained over 3,000 women to run for office. In 2017, Emerge had 150 candidates running up and down the general election ballot and 73% of them won their races. Emerge America has affiliates in 23 states that actively recruit, train, and support Democratic women to give them the critical skills, confidence, and network they need to run for office and WIN.

If you have any questions, please contact Expansion Director Laila Mohib at laila@emergeamerica.org.

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Labor leader Tefere Gebre awarded Peace Prize

 Tefere Gebre with Fr. Sean McManus

WASHINGTON – Tefere Gebre, a stalwart of the cause of organized labor, was given a “Roving Ambassador for Peace” award in a ceremony, near Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Gebre, a native of Ethiopia, is an Executive Vice-President of the AFL-CIO. According to the program notes, he became in 2013, the “first immigrant, political refugee, black man and local labor council leader elected as a national officer of the AFL-CIO.”

In 1975, at age 13, Gebre was forced to leave his native homeland. Ethiopia was being ripped apart by warring factions. He walked hundreds of miles across the desert to reach a safe haven in the Sudan. From there, Mr. Gebre was blessed by gaining “refugee status” and soon emigrated to America, and then to Los Angeles, California.

The award ceremony was held in the headquarters of the AFL-CIO, on the eighth floor, at 815 16th Street, NW, with a splendid view of the White House and Washington Monument. There was close to a capacity audience in attendance.


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Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: from the preamble to the American Federation of Labor’s founding document:
“A struggle is going on in all of the civilized world between oppressors and oppressed of all countries, between capitalist and laborer…”

December 09
Ratification of a new labor agreement at Titan Tire of Natchez, Miss., ends the longest strike in the history of the U.S. tire industry, which began May 1, 1998, at the company’s Des Moines, Iowa, plant – 2001

December 10
First sit-down strike in U.S. called by IWW at General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y. – 1906
(No Contract, No Peace: A Legal Guide to Contract Campaigns, Strikes, and Lockouts is a must-have for any union or activist considering aggressive action to combat management’s growing economic war against workers. No Contract, No Peace! updates information contained in the first edition, entitled Strikes, Picketing and Inside Campaigns, to include reference to recent union activities and NLRB decisions that have affected the labor relations environment. Schwartz’s familiarity with labor and employment law combines with his activist spirit to provide innovative yet practical tips for mounting and maintaining meaningful campaigns designed to build union and workers’ power.)

Int’l Human Rights Day, commemorating the signing at the United Nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, in part: “Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his interests.” – 1948

American Federation of Teachers Local 89 in Atlanta, Georgia, disaffiliates from the national union because of an AFT directive that all its locals integrate. A year later, the AFT expelled all locals that refused to do so – 1956

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten

Union Communication Services

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Trump Administration SCOTUS Brief Threatens Working People’s Livelihoods

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the Trump administration’s brief to the Supreme Court on Janus v. AFSCME:

While President Trump boasts his support for working families, his administration is advocating a position in the United States Supreme Court that disregards decades of settled law and threatens our livelihoods. Yet again, his actions are failing his rhetoric and making clear that he has no intention of following through on his commitments to working people.

For more than forty years, through Republican and Democratic administrations, the law has recognized that unions and employers have the freedom to negotiate agreements under which everybody contributes his or her fair share. But now the Trump Administration is urging the Supreme Court to reverse this precedent and undermine working people and our unions. This is a shameful political payback to reward those who seek to do working people harm.

Arguing against our freedoms at work is not what working people expect of our government. Actions speak louder than words Mr. President, and these actions do not support working families as you so often claim.

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New Iowa IDs are In the Mail December 7, 2017 – Laurie Stern, Public News Service (IA)

DES MOIES, Iowa — The Iowa Secretary of State wants 123,000 voters to be on the lookout for a special envelope coming in the mail in the next few days. Voter ID cards are being mailed to Iowans who do not have a state driver’s license or other state ID.

Kevin Hall, spokesman for Secretary of State Paul Pate, said the cards will ensure that registered voters have what they need, beginning with the 2018 elections.

“Voters at the polls will be asked to present either a driver’s license, a non-driver’s ID, military ID, veteran’s ID, passport or, if they don’t have any of those, their voter ID card, which we will be mailing to them automatically,” Hall said.

In 2018, voters will be asked to show their ID at the polls. Voters without the necessary ID will be asked to sign an oath verifying their identity. Stricter measures will be enforced in 2019.

Some Iowans are still concerned that people who move frequently or misplace the new cards will be left out of the voting process. But Kevin Hall said the new measures are meant to make voting more efficient, especially as the state moves to electronic poll books.

“This will greatly enhance not only the electoral experience for the voter, make it easier for them and for the poll worker, but just eliminate any potential for human fraud and human error as well,” he said.

Iowa has one of the highest voter-participation rates in the country; about 93 percent of the eligible population is registered.

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Last Chance to Get Covered: Weekend of Action

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There are just 10 days left before the December 15 deadline for getting health coverage for 2018. That’s not much time. And we need to make sure that people know that this is their last chance to get coverage form … Continue reading

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Grassley on Trickle-down

From Bryan’s Cross of Gold Speech:

“Mr. Carlisle said in 1878 that this was a struggle between the idle holders of idle capital and the struggling masses who produce the wealth and pay the taxes of the country; and my friends, it is simply a question that we shall decide upon which side shall the Democratic Party fight. Upon the side of the idle holders of idle capital, or upon the side of the struggling masses? That is the question that the party must answer first; and then it must be answered by each individual hereafter. The sympathies of the Democratic Party, as described by the platform, are on the side of the struggling masses, who have ever been the foundation of the Democratic Party.

There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”

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Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: Heywood Broun “Brotherhood is not just a Bible word. Out of comradeship can come and will come the happy life for all.” December 08 Twenty-five unions found the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in Columbus, Ohio; … Continue reading

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Wasted on Grassley’s Salary

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Movies, Women and Booze – A Grassley Christmas

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Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: Isaac Myers
“American citizenship is a complete failure if [black workers are] proscribed from the workshops of this country.” 

Myers was the founding president of the Colored National Labor Union 

December 07
Heywood Broun born in New York City. Journalist, columnist and co-founder, in 1933, of The Newspaper Guild – 1888

Steam boiler operators from 11 cities across the country meet in Chicago to form the National Union of Steam Engineers of America, the forerunner to the Int’l Union of Operating Engineers. Each of the men represented a local union of 40 members or fewer – 1896

More than 1,600 protesters staged a national hunger march on Washington, D.C., to present demands for unemployment insurance – 1931

United Hatters, Cap & Millinery Workers Int’l Union merges into Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union – 1982

Delegates to the founding convention of the National Nurses United (NNU) in Phoenix, Ariz., unanimously endorse the creation of the largest union and professional organization of registered nurses in U.S. history. The 150,000-member union is the product of a merger of three groups – 2009

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Careful backpedaling on estate tax, Senator

Contrast Senator Grassley’s current statements with his 2005 thought that “it’s a little unseemly” to suggest repealing the estate tax “at a time when people are suffering.” The tax bill promises suffering.

One of the problems with backpedaling is if you don’t do it well, you trip. Somebody catch Senator Chuck Grassley.

As has been widely noted across social media — a good example is this post in Bleeding Heartland — The Des Moines Register quoted Iowa’s senior senator that estate tax repeal would reward “people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.

Ironically, while promoted as a pullout quote in the packaging of the story, the “booze or women or movies” comment came quite low in the piece. More substantive problems with the Senator’s rationale for opposing the estate tax were presented higher: specifically his continued insistence that this has something to do with the survival of family farms.

It. Does. Not.


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Labor History

Labor Quote of the Day: AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, who welcomed the collapse of World Trade Organization talks in Seattle on this date in 1999, declaring, “No deal is better than a bad deal.” December 06 African-American delegates meet in Washington, … Continue reading

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IAMAW Machinist Local 1010 Christmas Party

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IAMAW Machinist Local 1010 Christmas Party at the Machinist Hall in Middletown, Iowa on Sunday, December 4, 2017. Christmas Cookie decorating and Christmas Coloring, Christmas Goodie Sacks, and photographs with dear Ol’ Santa Claus, and photo’s with Christmas Props were … Continue reading

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What happened in Congress last week was shameful, but the fight is not over yet.

At 1:30 AM Saturday, after less than 2 weeks of consideration and debate, 51 Senate Republicans voted to give whopping tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals and corporations. Their plan will cause the deficit to explode and trigger $25 billion in cuts … Continue reading

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Call Now about the Tax Bill


Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in response to the Republican tax bill passing the Senate:

The GOP tax bill that passed the Senate by one vote is nothing but an attack on America’s workers. We will pay more, corporations and billionaires will pay less. It’s a job killer. It gives billions of tax giveaways to big corporations that outsource jobs and profits.

President Trump said that he wanted to lower taxes for everyone as a Christmas gift to America, but this bill is simply a lump of coal to working families across the country. The only real gift is the major tax giveaways to Wall Street, big corporations and the super-rich, when what our country needs is investment in our schools and infrastructures that creates jobs.

Call – 1-844-899-9913   House of Representatives switchboard.

Click Here to send a petition

Message of the Day—No More Handouts to Rich

The Republican tax bill that squeaked through Congress in the dead of night last week has 479 pages, but the summary is simple: It hurts working people to give handouts to Wall Street and the rich. The bill:

Lowers taxes on the 1%. In an era marked by staggering economic inequality, the GOP dramatically lowered taxes on billionaires like Donald Trump by about $500 million.

Pays companies to outsource jobs. Major corporations may be able to cut their taxes to zero by sending jobs and investments overseas, at a cost of $500 million to taxpayers.

Raises taxes on poor workers. Millions of working people will get smaller deductions and tighter restrictions, all to give a few individuals like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin a massive tax break.

Hurts America’s future. The GOP tax bill hurts students in a number of ways, including by ending the tax credit for interest payments on student loans.

Still, this tax bill is far from being law. The House and Senate passed two different bills, which give working families more time to fight it. Instead of giving handouts to powerful corporations, Congress should fight for our jobs and our communities.

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