Iowa UE Members
Bring Action Program
To State Capitol
DES MOINES, Iowa
UE members take a message for the
Iowa legislature to the
steps of the State Capitol.
The concerns of several thousand working families were heard
in the state capitol Feb. 6 as delegates to the annual UE Political Action Day
met with elected officials. Political Action Day 2001 boasted the largest number of UE
locals ever represented.
Among the issues forcefully presented by UE members, who are
mostly employed in the public sector, were:
Action on the child welfare caseload crisis.
A two-year moratorium on the further privatization of
public services, and an investigation of the privatization record in Iowa.
An increase in funding for public school systems across
the state, including greater funding for school construction and
maintenance, school staff, and faculty.
Action to stop the health insurance robbery of public
education, including exploration of an education health insurance pool to
stop price gouging.
Action to defend the basic rights of public-sector
Action to deal with the energy crisis.
Action on the high cost of prescription drugs.
The dialogue with elected officials began early in the day,
when delegates heard from State Rep. Ed Fallon, who agreed with the
need for more funding for child welfare but questioned the department’s
operations. This provoked spirited discussion, as UE members challenged Rep.
Fallon and state officials to listen directly to front-line state workers.
Union members strongly expressed their needs.
'HERE IN FORCE'
Two Local 893 members — Steve Diaz and State Rep. Rick
Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson addresses UE delegates.
Delegates marched from their hotel conference room to the
Capitol building, where there were welcomed and encouraged by State Rep. Rick
Larkin — a UE Local 893 member. "I’m really amazed and happy how
our union has grown over the years in Iowa, after eight years we’re here in
force in the Capitol," Larkin said.
Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson gave a special
presentation to the UE delegation, complete with charts, to show how the
Republican-dominated legislature had so drastically cut taxes that the state
lacks funds for needed programs. She challenged union members to tell the
legislature to adequately fund necessary state programs.
Union members readily agreed, but stressed that state
officials must listen to front-line workers, not just managers. UE members
were insistent in reminding state officials that their union, for more than a
decade, has been telling Des Moines that it is an outrage that too few social
workers have been trying to carry too many cases. Tragic episodes are an
After that, the close to 50 delegates spread out to
legislative chambers where they spoke to a number of representatives and
senators on the issues — and supported each other in raising issues.
Delegates from Local 896, which represents graduate employees of the
University of Iowa, gave the facts on their poverty-stricken conditions. They
perform 58 percent of UI teaching that involves contact with undergraduate
students; they are forced to pay for tuition and child care.
At the start of the day, delegates were jointly welcomed by
the presidents of the two largest local unions, Bill Austin of Local
893, IUP, and Jennifer Sherer of Local 896, and District Pres. Carl
UE Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark celebrated the dramatic
growth of the union in Iowa over the past decade, an expansion which created
the breadth of representation at the day’s gathering. The political action
conference began small, with attendance only by members of Local 893.
"What a contribution we’re now making for working people in Iowa!"
he said. The late Dan Kelley had a major role in the union’s growth
and development of the state Political Action Day, Clark observed. Kelley,
president of Local 893, passed away Dec. 19.
Clark presented delegates with copies of a new pamphlet, based
on a UE NEWS series on the story of Local 893, Iowa United
Professionals. The pamphlet was well received.
UE Political Action Dir. Chris Townsend gave delegates
an issues briefing and challenged delegates to follow up back home with
Local unions represented were 811, 821, 855, 893, 896, 898 and
1145. Local 893 is a statewide amalgamated local whose membership is drawn
primarily from state employment; Local 893 delegates came from many of the
amalgamated local’s sublocals.
UE News - 02/01