SIOUX CITY, Iowa
UE's rapidly expanding ranks in the Hawkeye State grew by more than 100
workers on Oct. 15 when support staff employees of Western Iowa Technical Community
College voted to join UE.
The members of new UE Local 1145 are custodians, maintenance workers,
secretaries, clerks, technicians and computer specialists, among others.
This is the second community college support staff to organize with UE in
Iowa in less than a year. (See: Community College
Workers Demand Voice, Vote UE).
WIT workers overcame many of the anti-union tactics traditionally used by
private-sector companies, including the "captive audience" meeting. The WIT
administration had a high-priced lawyer from the state capital drive to Sioux City in a
failed attempt to convince workers not to form a union. In true UE style, workers had been
informed of their rights, and stood up to confront the misinformation.
Workers adopted as their goals overtime pay, real negotiations, no
salary-capping and preservation of benefits.
In particular, WIT workers were fed up with years of abuse and misuse of
overtime pay. Recently, during a heavy renovation period at the college, time clocks were
removed until workers were back to their normally scheduled hours. Some workers must even
take monitors home with them on the weekends, to maintain the workplace building
environments without compensation.
The final straw, however, came when the administration backed out of an
agreement with the staff on a leave benefit. This prompted Sue Lucken, a WIT secretary, to
say, "Weve seen what administrations can do and it should scare us all. Once
united, we will have a voice, well have real negotiations, and well be
WIT support staff had assistance from UE Local 1187 members at Load King
in Elk Point, S.D. as well as UE Local 801 members at the South Sioux City School
District. Volunteer organizers Cheryl Funk and Theresa Conner of UE Local 898, Newton
Community School District, also worked closely with the WIT workers.
WIT staff were assisted by UE Field Org. Rick Hartmann, with help from
Field Organizers Ryan Downing and Rocky DeMaio and Intl. Rep. Greg Cross.