Labor Day Weekend Newsletter
LABOR DAY: THE FIGHT FOR WORKING IOWANS CONTINUES We all deserve the chance to get ahead. That’s why I am fighting for opportunities for students, workers and small business owners to make better lives for themselves and strengthen our economy.
Unfortunately, Iowa’s Republican-controlled state government has recklessly disregarded everyday Iowans. That’s worrisome when you consider that more than 30 percent of Iowa households struggle to afford daily expenses, according to a 2016 United Way report. There are lots of hard-working Iowans in low-paying jobs, with little or no savings, that can’t afford basic housing, child care, food, transportation and health care. Many Iowans find themselves in this situation because Governor Reynolds and legislative Republicans did not keep their promises to increase family incomes by 25 percent and to bring more than 200,000 new jobs to Iowa. The Governor, legislative Republicans and out-of-state special interests have misled Iowans about their priorities. Their new laws have focused on driving down wages, cutting health care, degrading our quality of life, taking away rights and opportunities, and turning Iowa’s budget surplus into a deficit. As we celebrate Labor Day this year, we must renew our commitment to fight for the principles that helped workers achieve the American dream and made our country strong. We must make everyday Iowans a priority again by: -Paying fair, living wages to all workers -Making workplaces safe and healthy -Giving Iowans a retirement they can count on -Ensuring everybody gets the health care they need -Preparing students for work and life -Keeping down the cost of college and job training -Re-examining tax breaks for big, out-of-state corporations NEW TOOL CAN HELP IOWANS PLAN A CAREER PATH Iowans looking for promising career opportunities or a career change can use Iowa’s “Future Ready” resources to make the best possible choices. Future Ready Iowa is an initiative to help Iowans get education and training beyond high school so that they have the qualifications for in-demand jobs that pay well. Because more careers are requiring advanced knowledge and technical skills, Future Ready Iowa is striving for 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce to have education, training or recognized certification beyond high school by 2025. The Future Ready Iowa website can help you explore careers; learn about available education and training; see what types of financial aid are offered; and search available positions for the right job opportunity. For even more focused help, contact our regional IowaWORKS Center, where professionals provide one-on-one help choosing a career path, writing a resume and cover letter, practicing for job interviews, assessing your skills and searching for jobs. Our regional office is: -IowaWORKS Center - Des Moines Serving Boone, Dallas, Jasper, Madison, Marion, Polk, Story and Warren Counties 430 E Grand Avenue, Des Moines Phone: 515-281-9619 Email: Region11.Web@iwd.iowa.gov As Iowa prepares to be Future Ready, sector partnerships already are playing a growing role by bringing together business, industry, workforce and education to ensure training prepares Iowans for specific jobs that need to be filled. A new report shows sector partnerships in Iowa are: -Strongest in manufacturing, information technology and health science. -Active in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. -Affiliated with high schools, colleges, local school districts, trade organizations and unions. -Focused on career awareness in schools, workforce training and skill development to ensure Iowans know how to prepare for available jobs. IOWA MUST KEEP PROMISES TO WORKERS & RETIREES Republicans who control Iowa’s state government have been talking about changes that could hurt the retirements of hundreds of thousands of Iowans. The Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System—IPERS—is the largest public pension system in the state. It has more than 350,000 members, including state, city, county, school district employees, former public employees and 114,000 retirees. IPERS is a “prefunded” system—contributions from employees and employers are pooled and invested. The average IPERS member retires after 22 years and earns an annual pension of $16,000. Major changes to IPERS are not needed. Industry experts consider it a healthy, secure plan, with long-term returns coming in well above expectations. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald says major changes to IPERS could jeopardize the retirements of Iowans who spent their careers contributing to a pension they’re counting on. VIDEO: Why Iowa’s state treasurer is concerned about changes to IPERS IPERS’ latest investment performance shows strong returns for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, including a significant increase over the previous year. More important, IPERS is doing well in the long term. VIDEO: CEO of IPERS describes its strong condition Changes to IPERS or any of Iowa’s public retirement programs must be approved by the Legislature. I will not support a proposal that shortchanges Iowans on their well-earned pensions. We must keep our promises to workers and retirees. PREPARE FOR CHANGES TO PUBLIC UNION RECERTIFICATION THIS FALL Iowa had a bipartisan collective bargaining law that worked well for more than 40 years. Originally passed to stop strikes, it ensured Iowans, employees and public employers collaborated on mutually agreeable solutions in the workplace. This year, however, Iowa’s Republican-controlled state government took away public employee rights with the passage of HF 291. The new law makes major changes to what may be negotiated and how public unions are certified and decertified. It also added a new requirement that public unions “recertify” every few years. Union recertification is a vote to determine if employees want to continue to be represented by their current union. To help everyone understand how the new law works in time for this fall’s recertification elections, Iowa’s Public Employment Relations Board is holding information meetings throughout Iowa in the coming weeks. Iowa’s public-sector unions now have to win support from a majority of employees in a bargaining unit, not just a majority of those voting in the certification election. Previously, the vote was decided by bargaining unit employees that showed up for the election. Now, workers who don’t vote are counted as a “no.” All employees in a bargaining unit are considered voters, even if they aren’t dues-paying members of the union. A bargaining unit must recertify prior to the expiration of their contract, or it becomes defunct. In addition, all election costs for recertification must be paid in full by the public employee organization before the election takes place or certification is revoked. GET THE FACTS ON IOWA’S WORKERS’ COMP There’s been a lot of talk in recent days about why Iowa’s workers compensation rates are going down. Do not believe the spin that sweeping changes made this year to Iowa’s workers comp system (HF 518) are responsible. Under newly proposed rates, Iowa employers will see an 8.7 percent decrease in what they must pay for workers compensation premiums in January. A report by the National Council on Compensation Insurance shows that the decrease is based on data from 2014 and 2015—NOT the changes made to Iowa law this year in HF 518. The fact is Iowa’s workers comp system has always been strong. The Insurance Journal has given our system an “A” grade. The Iowa Economic Development Authority has raved that our state is below average for workers compensation premiums. And work injury claims have trended downward in Iowa, dropping more than 21 percent over the last eight years. About the new law: House File 518 made sweeping changes that gut protections for workers hurt on the job, reduce an employer’s liability for workplace injuries, and encourage employers and insurance companies to avoid paying claims on time. NEWS YOU CAN USE A special event for Vietnam vets On Sunday, September 10, Iowa Public Television invites Vietnam veterans to The Iowa Experience: Vietnam, a special event in honor of their courage and sacrifice. Click through for complete details and to RSVP for this free event at IPTV Studio’s in Johnston. Water-filling stations for schools With $100,000 support from Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, selected schools can get an old drinking fountain replaced with a new Elkay water fountain/bottle-filling station. They’ll receive reusable water bottles for all students and staff and an opportunity for an additional $500 to design and implement an educational campaign encouraging students to drink more water. Iowa schools can apply at www.deltadentalia.com/H2O by September 22. Nominations sought for STEM Teacher Awards Through October 6, nominate a teacher for Iowa’s STEM Teacher Award. The award recognizes one full-time, licensed K-12 teacher from each of six STEM regions across the state for motivating students to develop a lasting interest in STEM. The six teachers selected will each receive $1,500, with an additional $1,500 award for their classroom. Prescription savings program Looking to save money on prescriptions? A nationwide program with pharmacy partners can help ensure you get the lowest price available. Get the FamilyWize Prescription Savings card or app, present it when filling a prescription, and your pharmacist will give you the lowest-possible price, whether it is the FamilyWize price, your insurance price or the retail price.