Iowa UE Members Greet
Governor, Meet Lawmakers
DES MOINES, Iowa
|Iowa Gov. Vilsack is presented with framed copies of UE
leaflets backing his candidacy last fall, above. From left, Local 893 Vice Pres. Bill
Austin, Local 893 Pres. Dan Kelley, Local 896 Legislative Chair Jason Duncan, Vilsack,
Local 893 Sec. Pat Hasenclever and Genl. Pres. John Hovis. Below, Pres. Hovis chats with
Local 893 member Dale Garlinghouse, who made a presentation both to Gov. Vilsack and the
conference on why privatization of adoption services would be a bad idea.
The unusually mild, sunny weather here on Feb. 9 matched the mood of union
members gathering in the state capital for the annual UE Political Action Day. With the
cloud of the labor-hostile Branstad administration lifted after 16 years, the
representatives of more than 6,000 working families from each of the states 99
counties looked forward to positive changes.
Turnout was unusually high for a state-employee contract year, making this
sixth political action day one of the biggest yet. Some half dozen locals sent close to 70
delegates, who met with more than 75 lawmakers.
A meeting with newly elected Gov. Tom Vilsack made for "a
change of pace," commented Dan Kelley, president of UE Local 893-Iowa United
Professionals. In years past the governor probably wouldnt have come and UE locals
certainly wouldnt have invited him.
UE enjoyed a good relationship with Vilsack when the new governor served
in the legislature, and UE members worked on his successful campaign last fall. He was
endorsed by both Local 893 and 896, Campaign for Organizing Graduate Students; this
campaign marked the entry of Local 896, COGS into state electoral politics. Labor support
was crucial as Vilsack overcame a 20-point deficit in the polls to become Iowas
first Democratic governor since 1966.
When the governor entered the Supreme Court chambers for his meeting with
UE members, it was clear from their standing ovation they knew who he was. And by his
remarks, it was equally obvious that Gov. Vilsack knew exactly who his audience was.
Gov. Vilsack affirmed his support for education and expressed doubts about
privatization; he quoted a letter written by Local 893 Pres. Kelley with regard to
privatization of adoption services and said he would contact the department head. He drew
applause and cheers when he mentioned his plans to replace the commissioner for Human
The Local 896 delegation had a first-time, introductory session with
Johnson County legislators. Union members called for increased funding for higher
education, child care and greater access to the University of Iowa board of regents.
Congratulating UE locals on for their role in the Vilsack election, Genl.
Pres. John Hovis advised: "We need to keep the pressure on." Remind the
governor that union members wont be satisfied with an administration that offers
little more than a "kinder, gentler" conservative policies. And, Hovis said,
"Iowa workers arent looking for someone to feel their pain
theyre looking for someone who will alleviate their pain and protect their
Political Action Dir. Chris Townsend led a workshop; District 11
Pres. Carl Rosen offered encouragement and expressed his appreciation for the
political action carried out by the Iowa locals. Local 896, COGS Pres. Deborah Herman
and Legislative Chair Jason Duncan talked about their locals lobbying for
increased higher-education funding and child care. Dale Garlinghouse made a
presentation on the privatization of adoption services. Local 893 Vice Pres. Bill
Austin explained the unions call for an end to XPERT funding; this computer
system was intended to simplify determination of public assistance benefits. UE members
employed by the Department of Human Services have seen this program crash and burn, Austin