I am a native of Iowa, born and raised here. Twenty-one years ago I was a single mother of two. I knew I needed a job that would pay more than minimum wage, so I went to work in a steel foundry.
Foundry workers deal with dangerous working conditions such as hot metal — 3,000 degrees, silica sand, which is very harmful. I wanted my coworkers to walk out of the foundry when they hit the time clock the same way they walked in that morning. The Labor Center gave me the tools to implement better health and safety committees that would function, not just go through the motions. Workers I represent also face workplace discrimination and harassment, and the Labor Center gives us tools and the knowledge to combat it.
The Labor Center gave me the confidence to represent my coworkers, to promote healthy working conditions, better wages and benefits. Through the value of education, we were able to raise standards in my plant and through that, as a single mother, I was able to send both of my children to college. My youngest just graduated from the University of Iowa and is considering the College of Law. I want to remind the university that Iowa workers also are parents. We’re taxpayers and tuition-paying parents of children who attend this university. And we need these programs.
Join me at a hearing about the future of the Labor Center on Thursday, Aug. 16, at 6 p.m. at the IBEW 405 hall in Cedar Rapids. Let’s keep the Labor Center open for working Iowans.
Staff Representative, United Steelworkers’ Union