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Posts Tagged ‘afl-cio iowa’

Iowa Law Makers: “We Have No Money This Year”

Iowa State Capitol

Iowa State Capitol

Posted on Iowa Labor News,  an electronic newsletter for the Labor Movement, specifically in Iowa, sponsored by the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO

By Charlie Wishman
Secretary/Treasurer Iowa Federation of Labor

All over the capitol, you’ll hear the same refrain from legislators from both parties. “We have no money this year.” It’s amazing what short memories they have, since many of them helped to cause this situation. We warned them two years ago that if they passed the “Largest Tax Cut In Iowa History,” (which was a massive property tax cut for corporate Iowa) we’d be in trouble in a short amount of time. It hasn’t taken long, and the effects are starting to show.

The Governor and his party have made some dangerous choices in reaction to the situation. One example is that they have proposed closing the mental health institutes in Clarinda and in Mount Pleasant. Not only on the worker side is this problematic as they plan to close two of the larger (union) employers in these communities, just as with other short sided decisions like closing the Iowa Juvenile Home they don’t seem to have a workable plan as to what to do with the residents of the facilities.

Another example of bad budgeting is the Governor and his party proposing to seriously short change our education system, proposing a 1.25% increase in funding next year followed by a 2.45% increase the second year. These proposals fall far short of the 6% recommended by our friends at the Iowa State Education Association and lower than the Iowa Senate’s plan that includes a 4% increase.

There has been positive movement in the House Labor committee by holding several sub-committee hearings on the issue of payment to employees with pay cards (HSB94). More and more Iowans are being paid on a card of some kind, sometimes without knowing what charges the cards have when trying to use the money they earned. Is this bankers and employers working together to rip off workers? No matter what anyone’s motives are, this has led to a unique form of wage theft that needs to stop, and rules need to be in place so workers and employers both know what expectations the state has. There are many issues that need addressed about these cards because currently this form of wage payment is not addressed in the Iowa Code.

The fight for a livable wage took a bad turn this week, with Senate Democrats signaling they would settle for a much lower minimum wage than the $10.10 we and many other of our partners have advocated for. SSB1151 would only raise the minimum wage to $8.75 by 2016, which is still not enough for a family to live on. We should do better as a state, and Iowa Senate Democrats should be leaders on this issue.

Contact your state Representatives and Senators and let them know that working families need a higher minimum wage than $8.75, and that we need a budget that looks out for all Iowans – not just corporate interests.

If you don’t know them or how to contact them, you can find that here:

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

banner_basic_aflcio_626  VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) will serve low income people who need assistance with filing their federal and state tax returns. The sites are staffed by volunteers who have been certified by the IRS as qualifed tax preparers. In many cases, the volunteers can assist a taxpayer with back taxes as well.

Many of these sites are not open all the time. It is always a good idea to call for hours of operation. Many sites will serve by appointment only and some are drop-in.

The link to VITA sites in Iowa will take you to a multi page listing of VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) sites in Iowa.


Labor Update: Fiscal Cliff Hanger Actions In Burlington, Davenport, Des Moines, Ames

Monday, December 10, is International Human Rights Day.

It is also the day that union members and their community allies will be holding demonstrations and making calls to Congress to block cuts to Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid as part of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

The AFL-CIO has sponsored call-in efforts to Congress in the last few weeks, lobbying them on the issue. Monday is a National Day of Action that will target nation-wide calls to members of Congress as they wind down their lame duck session negotiations.

When Social Security was passed in the 1930s, half of American seniors lived in poverty.  Research shows that even now, long after the end of the Great Depression and despite the advent of other anti-poverty programs like housing vouchers, food stamps and Medicare and Medicaid, if Social Security didn’t exist, half of seniors would again be thrust into poverty.  It is unconscionable that anyone in Congress would consider making cuts to these programs when there are still unnecessary and enormous corporate subsidies to Big Oil, Coal, McDonalds, Walmart, John Deere and countless other head-over-heals profitable industries at every level of government.

But the conventional wisdom you hear repeated everywhere in our culture is that of a meritocracy: you work hard you prosper – you be lazy, you deserve no handouts. This simple-minded ethic is flat-out wrong on so many levels (we are constantly subsidizing profitable enterprises, and our nation’s largest demographic are the working poor), but it’s insulating on a deeper level.  Taking care of our most vulnerable people – especially at the time when they are no longer in their role as “productive” workers in society – is what defines us as civilized and not barbaric.

So please join one of the actions taking place in Iowa on Monday.

And if you can’t be there in person, please call in, directions below.

1.Dial – in Toll Free: 888-659-9401
2.Listen to message instructions
3.Press 1 to be directed to Congressperson or 2 to be directed to Senator
4.Enter your Zip Code
5.You will be re-directed to their office

If you reach a real person, please share with them how you personally are affected by Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Be sure to give them your home address and urge them to preserve and protect these important programs.

Burlington: CONTACT:  Midge Slater, 515-250-4873,

WORKERS WILL  THANK CONGRESSMEN LOEBSACK FOR  HIS SUPPORT IN NOT MAKING CUTS IN SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE, OR MEDICAID AND NO TAX BREAKS FOR THE RICHEST 2%.   On Monday, December 10 Iowans will hold a Candlelight vigil and press conference at the Burlington Public Library, 210 Court Street, Burlington, IA.  They will be releasing a report that shows the impact of these programs on Iowans and asking their Congress people protect programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

5:00: Candlelight vigil in front of the library
5:15: People move inside to Meeting Room B for press conference
Speakers: Midge Slater, Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans/Ryan Drew, Treasurer, Des Moines, Henry County Labor Council/Jared Hershberger, Staff, Congressman Dave Loebsack

When: 4PM
Where: Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Davenport office is located at 201 West 2nd Street.
For further information, please call 309-788-1303

Members from organized labor unions, Alliance for Retired Americans, Progressive Action for the Common Good, MoveOn, and numerous faith-based organizations in the Quad Cities will be rallying outside Sen. Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) office in Davenport, Iowa at 4:00pm to make clear the following: “NO to tax breaks for the Richest 2% and NO to cuts in Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.”

In one of the most prosperous countries in the world, everyone should be able to retire with health and dignity. Working families across the country have made it clear that we need to protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits. Millions of working people, jobless people and retirees shouldn’t have to sacrifice their health care and retirement security so that the richest 2% can continue getting more tax breaks. It’s time for our elected leaders to focus on creating an economy that invests in jobs, healthcare and education for all.

DES MOINES: 300 East Locust, Des Moines: 4 PM to 5 PM
AMES: 1421 South Bell Avenue, Ames : 4 PM to 5 PM
CONTACT:  Lance Coles,  515-669-8046.     (Des Moines Event)
Charlie Wishman, 515-262-9571,   (Ames Event )


On Monday, December 10  Iowans from around the state will gather in front of the Iowa offices of Congressmen Boswell and Latham, asking them to protect programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

These Iowans will also be asking these Congressmen to stop the tax breaks for the richest 2% as well.

In a post-election “lame-duck” session, Congress is taking on high-stakes decisions with major consequences for working people and the economy.

Polling after the election clearly supports that the majority of American is saying no to the tax cuts for the top 2% and no to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. “We want to thank Congressman Boswell for standing with working Iowans,” said Charlie Wishman, Secretary/Treasurer of the Iowa Federation of Labor. ” The voters made it clear they want the rich to pay more in taxes, without making cuts in programs like Social Security.”

“We will continue to demand that members of Congress and the President stand up for fairness and economic security and refuse to increase already raging inequality during the lame-duck session in Congress”

AFL-CIO, Scott County Dems: Romney Should Level With Voters

Please Join AFl-CIO President Ken Sagar and Scott County Democrats in Press conference tomorrow at 12:00PM

AFL-CIO President Ken Sagar and Scott County Democrats Will Ask Romney to Level with Voters in Iowa

On Monday, instead of finding themselves on the receiving end of Romney’s usual platitudes and criticisms about what’s wrong with America, Iowa Democrats and labor leaders are asking Mitt Romney to level with voters and provide specifics about his plans.

What: Press Conference with Iowa AFL-CIO President Ken Sagar and Scott County Democrats
When: Monday, October 29, 2012, 12pm
Where: The Corner of 210th Street and 130th Avenue/Wisconsin Ave, Davenport, IA

“Throughout this campaign, Mitt Romney has shown that he will say anything to get elected. And now with only nine days left before Election Day, he is attempting to simply run out the clock by refusing to offer specific details on how his plan will actually create jobs in Iowa, and that’s unacceptable,” said Ken Sagar, President of the Iowa Federation of Labor. “Mitt Romney’s candidacy stands in direct contrast with President Obama, who has implemented a balanced and straightforward plan that places a priority on manufacturing, the auto industry, expanding the wind industry and preventing a tax hike on middle class families.”

Contact: Michael Hunt, Communications Director, IDP