Government

Democrats call on labor to help take back state, country

Hannah Schroeder/The Gazette

Fred Hubbell, the Democratic nominee for governor, talks with Jim and Shari Stewart of Marion and Stephanie and Kevin Techau of Cedar Rapids at the Hawkeye Area Labor Council steak fry Saturday at IBEW Hall in Cedar Rapids.
Hannah Schroeder/The Gazette Fred Hubbell, the Democratic nominee for governor, talks with Jim and Shari Stewart of Marion and Stephanie and Kevin Techau of Cedar Rapids at the Hawkeye Area Labor Council steak fry Saturday at IBEW Hall in Cedar Rapids.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The 2018 election is about regaining control of state and federal government, Democratic candidates told a gathering of labor union members Saturday.

It was in February 2017 when the GOP majorities in the Iowa House and Senate were voting to rollback Iowa’s four-decade-old collective bargaining law that state Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Dubuque, decided that she would run for Congress.

“I was going to do whatever I could to get my state and country back,” the second-term state representative said Saturday night at the Hawkeye Area Labor Council’s annual steak fry in Cedar Rapids.

She is challenging two-term U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, a Republican from Dubuque, in the 20-county 1st Congressional District, which includes Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls-Waterloo, Dubuque and Marshalltown.

Regardless of political persuasion, she said, “That’s not how we treat people here.”

That means that the 2018 election “won’t come down to whether you are Democratic or Republican, but whether you care about people or not.”

Retired Des Moines businessman Fred Hubbell decided to run for governor a bit later — after he heard then-Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds call the 2017 legislative session “the best ever.”

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“It was the worst ever,” Hubbell and his wife told each other, and said they wouldn’t “let her run our state into the ground anymore.”

Hubbell reminded his audience that he worked for a labor union in Des Moines in 1969-70 and that one of his daughters and her husband are union members. Working with public and private-sector unions — from both sides of the bargaining table — he said he has learned unions “bring a lot of value, not just to the bargaining table, but to the economy and the quality of life of people all across the state.”

So one of his first priorities as governor would be to restore Chapter 20, the collective bargaining law governing labor contracts between public employees and state and local government.

His first priority, however, would be to improve workers’ incomes by investing in education and health care because they often are the highest-paying jobs in Iowa communities. He wants to raise the minimum wage “a lot higher.”

Hubbell also called for more funding for education from pre-K through community colleges and universities, and increased investment in health care by ending the privatized management of Medicaid, restoring funding for Planned Parenthood and increasing funding for mental health.

In short, he said, it’s time for the state to put its budget behind its priorities.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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