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Iowa UE Members
Bring Action Program
To State Capitol



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 workers.

  • 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.


Two Local 893 members — Steve Diaz and State Rep. Rick Larkin.

Two Local 893 members — Steve Diaz and State Rep. Rick Larkin.

Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson addresses UE delegates.

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 inevitable result.

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 Rosen.


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 legislators.

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

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