Why, after just a few weeks on the job, did University of Iowa College of Law Dean Kevin Washburn decide to close our Labor Center? It’s been here, by legislative mandate, since 1951. It educates us to prevent injuries on the job, and teaches us to escape bullying by bad bosses.
The UI business school does a fine job of educating managers — lots of them learn great ways to keep workers from hurting bottom lines. The law school turns out corporate lawyers who can creatively help big employers avoid taxes and keep wages and benefits down.
At the same university, a small dedicated group acts on behalf of hardworking Iowans across the state.
My pastor calls the Labor Center “a hub of interdisciplinary research activity,” and he’s right. Without it, our workers are placed at risk and UI shirks a responsibility to serve all of Iowa.
The Labor Center prevents workplace problems from escalating into strikes, lawsuits, hospital visits and funerals. It does this by making vital information available. This greatly benefits our economic development.
The four individuals that staff the Labor Center don’t put much of a hole in the UI budget. Though the cost is small, the contribution is colossal, and closing them down won’t save much money.
Please tell Washburn, UI President Bruce Harreld, regents, your state representatives and the governor, that defunding the Labor Center is a slap in the face of working Iowans and just plain dumb.