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Dear Sisters and Brothers,

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 strongly encourages our members to attend legislative forums held by all legislators.

After clicking "Read More," you will find lists of legislative forums created by the party caucuses in the Iowa House and Iowa Senate. We are providing these links as a resource to you.

To view the forum lists, click "Read More" below and then look under “Additional Resources” at the bottom of the page.

The lists include forums in Boone, Cedar Rapids, Fairfield, Fort Madison, Grimes, Iowa City, Johnston, Keokuk, Knoxville, Mount Pleasant, Sioux City, Sheldon, Stacyville, Urbandale, Washington, and West Burlington.

Read more >>>

April 14, 2015

The Spring 2015 Issue of our newsletter is available for download. This issue includes:

  • Standing Together to Face Challenges (President Homan's Column)
  • Legislative Conference 2015 Photos
  • Arbitration Decision in Pictures
  • Ask Our Attorney Mark Hedberg: Workers' Compensation and Unemployment Benefits
  • AFSCME Iowa Council 61 Convention is coming in July!
  • New Executive Board Members
  • Calendar

Click "Read more" to reach a page where you can download a pdf copy.

Read more >>>

A Quick Guide to the State Budget, Education Funding, and Tax Credits
Today, State Senator Joe Bolkcom and Brad Hudson of the Iowa State Education Association held a “Moral Mondays” event to explain some key information about the state budget, education funding, and tax credits.

Here are some of the key points from their presentation:

  • The State of Iowa has a lot of funds in the bank. When you combine Iowa’s “Rainy Day” funds with the carry forward of surplus, the state has well over a billion dollars in the bank.
  • There is a healthy amount of funds available for education funding and other government services. The expenditure limitation calculated by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency minus existing appropriations and the estimated cost of a supplemental for Medicaid equals $365.5 million; more twice what Iowa House Republicans claim is available.
  • Iowa House Republicans’ math does not add up. Iowa House Republicans claim only $181 million is available for additional spending; however, they proposed a tax cut that would cost $482 million.
  • Iowa has a large number of tax credits that cost Iowans significantly. Iowa has over 40 tax credits that will cost the State an estimated $404 million in the upcoming fiscal year. While some of these credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit, do valuable and worthy things; as a whole, they receive nowhere near the scrutiny that appropriated spending receives from the legislature. Some of these tax credits go to some of the wealthiest corporations. These credits should receive more scrutiny before education funding is short changed.

April 13, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

I am writing to you about an exciting and important upcoming event: the Working Families Summit.

This summit will be an opportunity to meet with other Iowans with progressive values who are focused on raising wages, protecting civil rights, and making work family friendly. Attendees will learn from each other and prepare each other to go out and change Iowa and the nation for the better.

The Working Families Summit will be held Saturday, May 16, 2015 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the Scheman Building at Iowa State University.

The keynote speaker will be Robert Reich, the former US Secretary of Labor and a strong advocate for policies that benefit working families.

You can RSVP at: progressiowa.org/workingfamiliessummit – RSVP by May 11, 2015. Registration and attendance at the summit are free.

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 is a proud sponsor of the Working Families Summit. I strongly encourage AFSCME members to attend the summit.

In Solidarity,

Danny Homan, President
AFSCME Iowa Council 61

Click "Read More" to reach a page where you can download a general purpose flier and fliers for the Davenport - Iowa City - Cedar Rapids - Ames Bus and the Dubuque - Manchester - Evansdale - Ames Bus.

Read more >>>

April 3, 2015

On Monday, April 6th the Des Moines City Council will consider a proposal to outsource Des Moines Public Housing. This would transfer the program from experienced public employees to an outside entity that will likely cut corners, hurting those who count on these services. Des Moines’ elected officials would no longer have direct control of the services currently provided by Des Moines Public Housing to Des Moines residents.

We need you to:

1) Contact the Des Moines City Council and tell them you oppose outsourcing Des Moines Public Housing.

Mayor Frank Cownie: (515) 255-3644
Councilman Bill Gray: (515) 274-0077
Councilman Bob Mehaffey: (515) 266-6825
Councilman Christine Hensley: (515) 255-4716
Councilman Joe Gatto: (515) 402-2626
Councilman Chris Coleman: (515) 276-7644
Councilman Skip Moore: (515) 681-9804

Please make sure to call using a personal phone from a non-work location during non-work hours.

2) Attend the next Des Moines City Council Meeting:

Monday, April 6th
4:15 PM
Des Moines City Hall – City Council Chambers
400 Robert D Ray Drive
Des Moines, IA 50309

Mental Health Institutes Bill Needs Your Help!
Senate File 402 is legislation that would require Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes be kept open through the rest of the fiscal year and would require legislative approval of any closure after the end of the fiscal year.

This legislation has passed the Iowa Senate and needs action in the Iowa House. We need members, their family, and their friends to contact Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer and ask her to bring Senate File 402 to the floor before April 6th:

Email: linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov
Phone: (641) 357-8807
Capitol Phone: (515) 281-3221 (House Switchboard while House is in session. Ask for Representative Upmeyer.)

Please make sure to use personal phones/computers/e-mail accounts and to contact Representative Upmeyer from non-work locations during non-work hours.

Contact Iowa House Judiciary Chair about Community Based Corrections Boards Bill
Senate File 299 recently passed the Iowa Senate and is currently in the Iowa House. This bill would put a non-voting AFSCME representative on the Judicial District Department of Correctional Services Boards. This will give employees a stronger ability to communicate with their board members.

In order for the bill to remain alive for this session, it must pass the Iowa House Judiciary Committee by April 1, 2015.

We need members to contact Representative Chip Baltimore, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and ask him to pass Senate File 299 out of committee:

Representative Chip Baltimore:
E-mail: chip.baltimore@legis.iowa.gov
Phone: (515) 432.2732
House Switchboard: (515) 281-3221 (ask for Representative Baltimore while House is in session.)

Please make sure to use personal phones/computers/e-mail accounts and to contact Representative Baltimore from non-work locations during non-work hours.

House File 604 Tax Legislation
House File 604 would give Iowans the opportunity to use a so-called “flat tax” option. Iowa House Republicans could bring this bill to the floor of the House next week. Peter Fisher of the Iowa Fiscal Partnership described this legislation as “more millions for millionaires.” This bill will hurt funding for services that Iowans rely on. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 opposes this legislation. Please contact your legislators (look up here) and tell them you oppose House File 604. Please make sure to use a personal phones/computers/e-mail accounts from a non-work location during non-work hours.

Legislative Forums
We strongly urge members to attend their legislators’ forums. We post links to legislative forum calendars on our website. We typically update this page on Wednesday or Thursday of each week.

March 23, 2015

Senate File 402 is legislation that would require Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes be kept open through the rest of the fiscal year and would require legislative approval of any closure after the end of the fiscal year.

This legislation previously passed the Iowa Senate and is currently in the Iowa House.

We need to make our voice heard and push for this bill to come to a vote on the floor of the Iowa House.

Please contact Iowa House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer and ask her to bring Senate File 402 to the floor of the Iowa House. Her contact information is:

Email: linda.upmeyer@legis.iowa.gov
Capitol Phone: (515) 281-3221
(House Switchboard while House is in session. Ask for Representative Upmeyer)
Phone: (641) 357-8807

Please make sure to use personal phones/computers/e-mail accounts and to contact Representative Upmeyer from non-work locations during non-work hours.

Mental Health Institutes and Education Funding
The future of Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes and education funding continue to be major unresolved issues at the Capitol. Please continue to contact your legislators and tell them you support Senate Files 333 and 402 (Mental Health Institutes bills) and that you oppose Iowa House Republicans’ proposed underfunding of Iowa schools.

You can look up your legislators’ contact information here. Please make sure to use personal phones/computers/e-mail accounts and to contact your legislators from non-work locations during non-work hours.

Iowa House Republicans Attack Collective Bargaining
On Tuesday, Iowa House Republicans brought legislation to the floor to attack collective bargaining. The bill (House File 549), as amended, would basically do away with binding arbitration for school district and AEA employees. The bill was a distraction from the real issue: Iowa House Republicans have proposed an education funding plan that will lead to layoffs, larger class sizes, and delays in purchasing needed classroom materials.

After a long debate, House File 549 passed the Iowa House on a 56-41 party line vote on Wednesday.

Thank you to all of the AFSCME members who contacted their Representative about this bill and/or came to the Capitol to show their support for collective bargaining.

Legislative Forums
We strongly urge members to attend their legislators’ forums. We post links to legislative forum calendars on our website. We typically update this page on Wednesday or Thursday of each week.

March 19, 2015

CORALVILLE – Today, AFSCME Local 2985 presented an $825 donation to the National Veterans TEE Tournament at an event at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center.

“As Americans, we owe so much to our veterans, especially those that are disabled. Our members selected the National Veterans TEE Tournament for this donation in order to show our appreciation of those who served to protect our freedom,” said AFSCME Local 2985 President Marty Hathaway.

Pictured left to right: Marty Hathaway (AFSCME Local 2985 president), Tim Tylee (AFSCME Local 2985 member), Kirt Sickels (National Veterans TEE Tournament Director), and Amy Ledvina (AFSCME Local 2985 executive board member). Click "Read more" to view a larger version of the photo.

About AFSCME Local 2985’s donation:

This donation was made from AFSCME Local 2985’s memorial fund. AFSCME Local 2985’s memorial fund was started many years ago by the membership. When a family member of a member passes away, the local puts $25.00 into the fund and at the end of the year the local looks for an organization to donate the money to in the names of the people that passed away that year so that their memory can live on.

In Iowa, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 represents 40,000 public employees and private sector employees. AFSCME Local 2985 represents employees at the Iowa Medical & Classification Center, which is part of the Iowa Department of Corrections.

About the National Veterans TEE Tournament:

The National Veterans TEE Tournament is a golf rehabilitation program for veterans. This year’s tournament will be held in the Iowa City area from September 7 – 10. The organization’s website describes the tournament as follows:

“Each year, the TEE Tournament uses a therapeutic format to promote rehabilitation, fellowship and camaraderie among participants. The event provides eligible Veterans with an opportunity to participate in therapeutic adaptive sporting activities which demonstrate that having a visual or physical disability need not be an obstacle to an active, rewarding life.”

Read more >>>

March 18, 2015

Yesterday, State Senator Tony Bisignano made remarks on the Iowa Senate Floor about the need for a salary bill. It's excellent and you should watch it. Check it out!

(If you are using a mobile device, you may need to skip forward manually to the 8:30 mark):

And thank you to Senator Bisignano for standing up for public employees and the services we provide to our communities.

Award is fair for state employees and all Iowans

March 14, 2015

DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement regarding Arbitrator Curtiss Behrens’ arbitration award that was opened today:

“Arbitrator Behrens’ award found that AFSCME Iowa Council 61’s final offer on health insurance to be the most reasonable. As a result of this arbitration award, all employees covered by the State Master Contract and Judicial Branch Contract will pay a minimum $20 per month for an employee health insurance premium, which was the Union’s final offer to the State.

“We are pleased that the arbitrator found in our favor on health insurance. We believe the process worked in such a way as to appropriately balance the interests of state employees and state government.

“Today’s arbitration award shows that Iowa’s current collective bargaining process works.

“On the issue of wages, the arbitrator found in favor of the State. While we had hoped the arbitrator would find in our favor on wages, we respect the arbitrator’s decision.

“With this fair decision, AFSCME members are pleased that we will be able to look forward and focus on providing public services to Iowans.

“Again the system worked by splitting the decision between the union and state positions. Iowa law worked well and provided a fair decision as it always does.”

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This week, three important pieces of legislation supported by AFSCME Iowa Council 61 passed the Iowa Senate. All three bills now go to the Iowa House for consideration.

Senate File 333 & Senate File 402– Mental Health Institutes Bills
Senate File 333 would require the Administration to keep open Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes through the end of the Fiscal Year so that the legislature could then weigh in on the issue in the next fiscal year’s budget. The bill also contains appropriations for all four mental health institutes.

Senate File 333 passed on a 32-18 vote.

Senate File 402 would also require the Administration to keep Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes open through the end of the current fiscal year. The legislation would also require legislative approval for the closure of either institution.

Senate File 402 passed on a 29-19 vote.

Senate File 299 – Community Based Corrections Board Bill
Senate File 299 would add a non-voting AFSCME representative to the boards of Judicial Districts’ Departments of Correctional Services. This will give employees a stronger ability to communicate with their board members. The idea for this bill came from AFSCME Local 3289 member Candace Acord’s AFSCME Women’s Leadership Academy project. You can visit Iowa Voices to learn more about the reasons why Candace and others support this legislation.

Senate File 299 passed on a 27-22 vote.

Contact your legislators!
With these three bills heading to the Iowa House, we strongly urge you to contact your State Representative and tell them you support these three bills. You can contact them by phone, by e-mail, or at one of the forums in their district. You can look up your legislators' contact information here. Please make sure to use personal phones/computers/e-mail accounts and to contact your legislators from non-work locations during non-work hours.

Mental Health Institute Bill Passes Committee
Senator Rich Taylor’s bill that would prevent the governor from continuing his unilateral process of shutting down Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes passed the out of the Senate Human Resources Committee. It was passed by the committee on an 11-0 bipartisan vote. The bill now goes before the full Iowa Senate for consideration.

The bill has been assigned a new bill number: Senate File 402. Please continue to contact your legislators on this issue. You can look up your legislators' contact information here. Please make sure to use personal phones/computers/e-mail accounts and to contact your legislators from non-work locations during non-work hours.

Iowa House Republicans Attack Collective Bargaining
This week, Iowa House Republicans introduced legislation that weakens collective bargaining for teachers and passed the bill (House Study Bill 204) out of committee. This bill makes changes to collective bargaining law for teachers by weakening a long-established and successful collective bargaining process that encourages school districts and teachers to reach voluntary agreements.

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 opposes this legislation. We stand in solidarity with Iowa’s teachers and declare that attempts to weaken collective bargaining for any workers are simply not acceptable.

This bill was clearly introduced by Iowa House Republicans to distract from their plan to underfund Iowa’s schools. The Iowa House Republican school funding proposal would lead to layoffs, larger class sizes, and delays in purchases of needed classroom materials.

When contacting your legislators, please tell them you oppose House Study Bill 204 and you support collective bargaining rights and strong funding for Iowa’s schools.

March 6, 2015

DES MOINES – Today, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement about the issuing of layoff notices yesterday at Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institute:

“These layoffs show the governor is not interested in working with the mental health provider community, legislators, patients and their families, or employees. The governor is proceeding alone, with no real plan for how to provide these needed services once these facilities close.

“This week, legislation (Senate File 402) passed an Iowa Senate committee on a bipartisan basis that, if enacted, would halt the governor’s unilateral actions. The governor should change course and work together with the legislature to put those who need these services first.”

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March 3, 2015

On Saturday, February 28, 2015, Tim Parker was elected as an AFSCME Iowa Council 61 District 2 Vice President (City, County, Schools, Private Sector seat) at a special convention. Tim is also the President of AFSCME Local 3642. He works as a Water Treatment Operator for the City of Council Bluffs and has been an AFSCME member for ten years.

“I am proud to be an AFSCME member because our members have a strong sense of solidarity. I am excited about the being a member of the executive board,” said Parker.

New Mental Health Institutes Bill Filed
A new bill by State Senator Rich Taylor, Senate File 308, has been filed. The bill is identical to Senate File 140 but does not include an appropriation in the bill. Like Senate File 140, this bill would prevent the governor from continuing his unilateral process of shutting down Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes before the General Assembly has had a chance to weigh in with a budget for the next Fiscal Year.

Please continue to contact your legislators on this issue. However, please refer to Senate File 308 instead of the original bill. You can look up your legislators' contact information here. Please make sure to use personal phones/computers/e-mail accounts and to contact your legislators from non-work locations during non-work hours.

Education Funding
Iowa House Republicans and Iowa Senate Democrats continue to disagree on allowable growth school funding. Iowa House Republicans continue to support 1.25% while Iowa Senate Democrats support 4%. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 supports a 6% increase. However, a 4% increase is vastly more preferable than a 1.25% increase which would have drastic consequences for Iowa schools (such as layoffs, larger class sizes, and not purchasing needed classroom materials). This week, the House and Senate formed a conference committee consisting of members from both chambers. If a resolution is reached by the committee, it would then be voted on by each chamber.

Correctional Services Districts’ Board of Directors Bill
This bill passed the Judiciary Committee by an 11-2 vote. The bill was then renumbered as Senate File 299 and goes to the full Iowa Senate for consideration. This legislation, if enacted, would add a non-voting AFSCME representative to the board of each Judicial District Department of Correctional Services. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 supports this bill.

Gas Tax
The Iowa House and Iowa Senate passed a gas tax bill and the governor signed it into law. This legislation will increase gas taxes by ten cents per gallon on Sunday, March 1st.

Legislative Forums
We strongly urge members to attend their legislators’ forums. We post links to legislative forum calendars on our website. We typically update this page on Wednesday or Thursday of each week.

February 25, 2015

AFSCME Local 1068 (Howard County Secondary Roads, Howard County Dispatchers, City of Cresco employees, City of Cresco Police, and Howard-Winneshiek School Bus Drivers) recently donated $1,200 to the Elma Fire Department. In this photo, Local President Donald Friedhoff, right, presents the check to the Fire Department.

Click "Read More" to see a larger image.

Read more >>>

Mental Health Institutes Bill Passes Senate Subcommittee
Senate File 140, a bill filed by State Senator Rich Taylor, has passed out of a Senate subcommittee. This bill, if enacted into law, would prevent the governor from continuing his unilateral process of shutting down Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes before the General Assembly has had a chance to weigh in with a budget for the next Fiscal Year.

The bill passed with the support of all three subcommittee members: Sen. Rob Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids), Sen. Amanda Ragan (D-Mason City), and Sen. Mark Segebart (R-Vail).The bill now goes to the full Iowa Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senator Hogg described the governor’s steps to unilaterally close these institutions as “unacceptable.” He added that patients he visited “were really benefitting from being there.”

Senator Segebart said “All we’ve really heard all year is don’t close them. We don’t have another option out there to send people to.”

Please continue to contact your legislators (by email, phone, and at legislative forums) in support of this bill. You can look up your legislator’s contact information here. Please make sure to use personal phones/computers/e-mail accounts and to contact your legislators from non-work locations during non-work hours.

Education Funding
Iowa House Republicans and Iowa Senate Democrats have not yet come to an agreement on education funding. Iowa House Republicans continue to support the governor’s recommendation for a 1.25% allowable growth rate, which the Iowa State Education Association and school superintendents have stated will lead to layoffs, larger class sizes, and non-replacement of classroom materials. Iowa Senate Democrats support a 4% allowable growth rate.

Correctional Services Districts’ Board of Directors Bill
A Senate subcommittee passed Senate File 145 on Tuesday. This legislation, if enacted, would add a non-voting AFSCME representative to the board of each Judicial District Department of Correctional Services Board. This would give the employees directly involved in providing these services a voice on their board. The idea for this bill came from AFSCME member Candace Acord’s 2014 AFSCME Women’s Leadership Academy project. The bill now goes to the full Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Minimum Wage & Wage Theft Bills Pass Iowa Senate Committee
On Wednesday, the Iowa Senate Business and Labor Committee approved these two bills to be sent to the full Iowa Senate:

Senate File 269 - a bill raising the state minimum wage to $8.00/hour on July 1, 2015 and $8.75/hour on July 1, 2016. This bill passed out of committee by an 8-3 vote.

Senate File 270 - a bill to address the issue of wage theft. This bill passed out of committee by a 7-4 vote.

Legislative Forums
We strongly urge members to attend their legislators’ forums. We post links to legislative forum calendars on our website. We typically update this page on Wednesday or Thursday of each week.

February 19, 2015

(Des Moines) Governor Terry Branstad has been invited to tour the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute he is seeking to abruptly shut down. State Senator Rich Taylor of Mount Pleasant invited the Governor to “see firsthand the services provided there to families from across the state of Iowa.”

Taylor also asked the Governor to “cease all lay-off notices for the hard-working employees of the MHI” until he has visited the facility.

Here is the complete text of the letter:

Dear Governor Branstad,

I invite you to visit the Mental Health Institute in Mount Pleasant. I believe you need to see firsthand the services provided there to families from across the state of Iowa.

I’m available any day, any time to join you on a tour of this important facility.

Until you see this facility firsthand, I appeal to you to cease all lay-off notices for the hard-working employees of the MHI.

At MHI, skilled professionals perform services unavailable elsewhere in Iowa. Patients most often arrive in Mount Pleasant because their local options failed to meet their needs--and sometimes the safety concerns of their communities.

The provision of mental health services to seriously ill people and their families is not a trivial matter. It requires experienced caregivers working in a setting that is safe and secure for patients, workers and the general public.

I’m sure you share my interest in avoiding hasty, uninformed, and possibly dangerous decisions that could negatively affect the health and safety of Iowans.

-end-

Saturday, March 28, 2015
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
The Clarion Hotel
5826 University Ave
Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613

This conference is open to any member that wishes to learn more about how local union finances should operate. This is an extremely important conference for local presidents, treasurers, secretary-treasurers, and trustees.

We especially want to encourage trustees to attend the conference. This conference will enhance their skills so that they can better review the work of their local treasurer.

RSVP by March 18, 2015 to Denise Raymond at draymond@afscmeiowa.org or 800-372-6054. RSVPs are important in order have an accurate account of food and classroom materials. We cannot guarantee food or class material if you do not RSVP.

Rooms are available at $89 per night. Please call (319) 277-2230 to book a room; make sure to ask for the AFSCME block. The deadline to book a room in the AFSCME block is March 4, 2015.

February 4, 2015

State Senator Rich Taylor has filed a bill, Senate File 140, that requires the Department of Human Services to “accept all eligible patients into the state mental health institutes through June 30, 2015.” The legislation provides the funding levels for all four mental health institutes for this current fiscal year.

This legislation, if enacted into law, would prevent the governor from continuing his unilateral process of shutting down Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes before the General Assembly has had a chance to weigh in with a budget for the next Fiscal Year.

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 supports this legislation.

Please contact your state legislators today and tell them you support Senate File 140. You can look up your legislators’ contact information by clicking here. As always, please remember to contact your legislators using a personal phone/e-mail/computer during non-work hours from a non-work location.

Here are a few key points you can make when speaking with or e-mailing your legislator:

  • The Administration has not currently issued any plan detailing what will happen to the patients of Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes.
  • The governor and the Department of Human Services are already taking unilateral steps to slow down admissions and move towards closure of these two facilities – without working with the General Assembly. Any decision on the future of these facilities should wait until the General Assembly can weigh in after seeking extensive input from patient families, community leaders, employees, and the public.
  • For many patients with the most difficult mental illnesses, the Mental Health Institutes are the most appropriate setting for their care; many have been refused admittance to other care settings.
  • Iowa’s mental health system is already severely stressed. Closing these two facilities, which have more than half the inpatient psychiatric beds in the southern third of Iowa, will make the situation worse.

Once you have contacted your legislators, please encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Take Action: Contact Your State Legislators Today
During the early weeks of the session, two major issues have developed: the governor’s proposal to close Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Institutes and education funding.

Both of these issues have attracted public attention. At a recent public hearing on education funding 49 speakers spoke out against the governor and House Republican’s insufficient school funding proposal and just one speaker spoke in favor of it (an advisor to the governor). Forums held by legislators in Mt. Pleasant and Clarinda have been packed with supporters of the mental health institutes, many of them our members.

We need to keep these efforts going strong. You can look up your legislators’ contact information by clicking here. After you contact your legislators on these two issues, please encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Below we have included information on these two issues that will be helpful for you when you contact your legislators.

As always, please remember to contact your legislators using a personal phone/e-mail/computer during non-work hours from a non-work location.

Quick Guide: The Governor’s Mental Health Institute Closure Proposal
In the governor’s budget released earlier this month, Governor Branstad proposed closing the Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes. These facilities serve some of the most vulnerable Iowans with mental illness.

When contacting your legislators, here are some of the points you can emphasize:

  • The well-being of the clients who rely on Department of Human Services facilities must come first in any decision about those facilities’ future. Closing the facilities would put lives at risk.
  •  A Des Moines Register analysis found that closing these two facilities would eliminate more than half the inpatient psychiatric beds in the southern third of Iowa.
  • For many patients with the most difficult mental illnesses, the Mental Health Institutes are the most appropriate setting for their care; many have been refused admittance to other care settings.
  • Waiting lists are common throughout all aspects of Iowa’s mental health system. Iowans struggling with mental illness and their families are often desperate to find treatment.
  • As Iowa’s mental health services have continued to fall short of Iowa’s mental health needs, those with mental health challenges often end up as the responsibility of law enforcement. This costs taxpayers and creates challenges for local law enforcement. Closing these two Mental Health Institutes will put a further strain our mental health system.

Important note for those living in the Clarinda area:
State Representative Cecil Dolecheck and State Senator Mark Costello have invited their constituents to a community meeting on this topic on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. at the Clarinda Mental Health Institute Auditorium. Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer will attend the meeting. We urge any AFSCME members in the area who can attend to do so and show their support for Iowa’s mental health institutes.

Quick Guide: Education Funding
After Governor Branstad’s education funding plan was opposed by 49 of 50 speakers at a public hearing, Iowa House Republicans still brought the governor’s 1.25% allowable growth bill to the floor and passed it. The bill now goes to the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate, which will likely pass a considerably higher level of funding for our schools. The House and Senate will need to agree on a funding level before the bill can go to Governor Branstad.

When contacting your legislators, here are some of the points you can emphasize:

  • Iowa’s investment in education has been lacking in recent years. As result of this, Iowa has fallen to $1,600 below the national average for per-pupil funding. We need to invest more in education than what the governor and Iowa House Republicans are proposing.
  • Many school superintendents have said the governor and Iowa House Republican’s level of funding will result in increasing class sizes, teacher layoffs, delays in book and classroom material purchases, reduction in class offerings, and increases in property taxes.
  • Education is an investment in the future of Iowa. A strong education prepares young Iowans to be involved citizens and talented workers. Investments in education pay off with a stronger economy down the road. We simply cannot afford to try to fund our schools “on the cheap.”

Legislative Forums
We strongly urge members to attend their legislators’ forums. We post links to legislative forum calendars on our website. We typically update this page on Wednesday or Thursday of each week.

If you attend a legislative forum this weekend, please make sure to tell your legislator that you opposing closing Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes and that you oppose the insufficient education funding passed by Iowa House Republicans.

January 27, 2015

Dear AFSCME Members,

Do you coach a youth or school sport?

Are you a member of the Guard or Reserves?

Are you a Girl Scout Leader? A Cub Scout or Boy Scout Leader?

Do you volunteer for your church or a charitable organization?

Are you a volunteer fire fighter?

Are you a local elected official?

Do you volunteer in your community outside of work in any way?

Send us an e-mail at COMMUNITY@AFSCMEIOWA.ORG and tell us how you are active in your community! Please include your name, personal email, personal phone, AFSCME local, city, your employer, your job title or brief description, and volunteer activity.

We would also love to have a photo of you (either a picture of you volunteering or a head and shoulders picture); however, this part is optional.

We will include your information in the “AFSCME In Our Communities” book used at our Legislative Conference and other AFSCME activities.

This is your chance to help promote AFSCME, your organization, and your volunteer spirit.

If you were in last year’s book, please drop us a short email letting us know if you still take volunteer at the same activities.

Please make sure to write us using a personal e-mail/computer during non-work hours from a non-work location.

In Solidarity,

Danny Homan, President
AFSCME Iowa Council 61

President’s State of the Union aimed at helping middle class
On Tuesday, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address and laid out a series of proposed policies focused on giving a boost to working families. However, a newly Republican-controlled Congress is unlikely to go along with the president’s ideas.

The President illustrated the economic strength of the union. “Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before,” said Obama.

Although the economy is now showing strong job growth, wage growth continues to lag behind. Obama advocated for a number of policies to address this, including strengthening unions. “To give working families a fair shot, we'll still need more employers to see beyond next quarter's earnings and recognize that investing in their workforce is in their company's long-term interest. We still need laws that strengthen rather than weaken unions, and give American workers a voice,” he said.

Some of the other policy proposals outlined by the President included raising the minimum wage, providing two free years of community college, expansion of child care tax credits, and closing corporate loopholes in the tax code.

This was the first State of the Union the president has given since Republicans took control of both houses of Congress. Given the unenthusiastic reaction to much of the president’s policy recommendations by Republicans in Congress, it seems unlikely the Republicans will go along with his proposals.

Governor’s Education Plan
The opening weeks of session have illustrated a large gap between Governor Branstad’s plans for education and the needs of Iowa students. The Governor’s budget proposal calls for 0.8% in allowable growth. The Iowa Senate Democrats released a survey of 205 Iowa school superintendents. A majority of superintendents who responded said that the governor’s plan would result in increasing class sizes, teacher layoffs, delays in book and classroom material purchases, reduction in class offerings, and increases in property taxes. 96.1% of the superintendents who responded to the survey said allowable growth should be set between 4% and 6%.

This week, Republicans on the Iowa House Education Committee passed the governor’s recommendations for school funding out of their committee. Iowa House Democrats have called for a public hearing on this bill. According to the Iowa State Education Association, this small increase would not even cover school district’s negotiated raises.

Iowa’s investment in education has been lacking in recent years. As result of this, Iowa has fallen to $1,600 below the national average for per-pupil funding.

Iowa needs to invest in our schools today for a bright future tomorrow. The governor’s proposal fails to do this.

Legislative Forums
We strongly urge members to attend their legislators’ forums. We post links to legislative forum calendars on our website. We typically update this page on Wednesday or Thursday of each week.

January 23, 2015

The South Central Iowa Federation of Labor will be awarding a scholarship to a high school senior in a South Central Iowa Federation of Labor affiliated household.

The deadline to apply is March 29, 2015.

For information on how to apply, please visit this page on the South Central Iowa Federation of Labor website.

January 20, 2015

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members enrich and strengthen their communities in many ways, both on and off the job. One of those ways is through charitable donations made by AFSCME Iowa Council 61 locals during the holiday season.

This list includes over $33,750 in donations to charitable causes. These donations have or will assist countless struggling Iowa families in many ways.

In addition to the donations listed below, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 is a major sponsor of Toys for Tots in the KCCI viewing area. AFSCME members from many locals collected and donated toys to Toys for Tots and other local charities.

Thank you to all AFSCME members and locals that took part in these charitable efforts.

Donations made by Locals:

  • AFSCME Local 12 (University of Iowa) donated $250 to the Homeless Children’s Trust. AFSCME Local 12 members volunteered for the National Association of Letter Carriers Canned Food Drive.
  • AFSCME Local 35 (Capitol Complex – Blue Collar) donated toys to Toys for Tots
  • AFSCME Local 183 (Johnson County, Iowa City, and Coralville) donated $500 to Homeless Children’s Trust, $500 to Table to Table (Iowa City), $500 to the Crisis Center of Johnson County, $500 to the North Liberty Community Pantry, $250 to the Tiffin Food Bank, and $250 to Toys for Tots.
  • AFSCME Local 212 (City of Sioux City and Sioux City Community Schools Bus Drivers) donated $1,000 to Mr. Goodfellow, a charity that assists underprivileged kids in the Siouxland area. Local 212 also donated gifts to six children as part of the Sioux City Holiday Giving Tree.
  • AFSCME Local 231 (Linn County and City of Marion) donated toys to Toys for Tots.
  • AFSCME Local 451 (Newton Correctional Facility and Iowa Correctional Institution for Women) donated $5,000 to Toys for Tots. Local 451 also sent holiday cards to wounded service members at Walter Reed.
  • AFSCME Local 525 (Clarinda Correctional Facility) donated $150 each to the 6 surrounding counties’ toy funds for total of $900.
  • AFSCME Local 888 (Clinton City/Parks and Jackson County) donated $50 to the Benevolent Society in the Clinton area, $50 to the Salvation Army in the Clinton area, $50 to the Red Cross in the Clinton area, $50 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation in the Clinton area, and $50 to Toys for Tots in the Clinton area.
  • AFSCME Local 1068 (Howard County Secondary Roads, Howard County Dispatchers, City of Cresco employees, City of Cresco Police, and Howard-Winneshiek School Bus Drivers) donated $250 to Dollars for Scholars at Howard-Winneshiek Schools, $250 to Dollars for Scholars at Riceville Community Schools, $250 to HoCA (Howard Cancer Association), and $100 donations to each of these six local fire departments: Cresco, Protavin, Elma, Chester, Riceville and Lime Springs.
  • AFSCME Local 1100 (Home Care) donated $250 to Toys for Tots.
  • AFSCME Local 1127 (City of Guttenberg) donated $50 to the Guttenberg Police Department's Christmas Family Fund.
  • AFSCME Local 1141 (Ottumwa Community Schools) donated $100 to A Workingman’s Christmas, which provides gifts to children in need in Wapello County.
  • AFSCME Local 1868 (Polk County and City of Ankeny) donated $1,000 in toys to Toys for Tots. Local 1868 also donated $2400 worth of South Central Iowa Federation of Labor food baskets to families in need in Polk County, donated $270 of toys to Polk County Family Enrichment Center's Adopt-A-Star program, and donated $100 to the Polk County Health Department Mitten Tree.
  • AFSCME Local 2005 (Keokuk Community Schools) donated $50 to the Salvation Army.
  • AFSCME Local 2051 (Prairie Meadows) donated $1,000 to Toys for Tots.
  • AFSCME Local 2659 (University of Northern Iowa) donated $1,000 to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and $500 to House for Hope.
  • AFSCME Local 2840 (Jasper County) donated $500 to Toys for Tots and $250 to the Jasper County Animal Rescue League. Local 2840 also donated South Central Iowa Federation of Labor Holiday Food Baskets to the Salvation Army, a women’s shelter in Jasper County, and Rainbow Recovery.
  • AFSCME Local 2932 (City of Fort Dodge) donated $125 to Shoes that Fit in Fort Dodge.
  • AFSCME Local 2985 (Iowa Medical & Classification Center – Oakdale) donated $4,500 to Toys for Tots.
  • AFSCME Local 2987 (Independence Mental Health Institute) donated $500 to Operation Santa and $500 to the Independence Food Pantry.
  • AFSCME Local 2988 (Eldora Training School) donated $100 to the Tiger Pack Afterschool Program.
  • AFSCME Local 2989 (Iowa State Penitentiary and Great River Regional Waste Authority) donated $500 and food items to the local food pantry.
  • AFSCME Local 2990 (Woodward Resource Center) donated $500 to Toys for Tots. Local 2990 also collected canned goods for the local food bank and donated grocery gift cards to people in the community who are in need. Local 2990 opened its doors for a community Thanksgiving Dinner for everyone in the community, including those who have to work on Thanksgiving or cannot afford a Thanksgiving meal.
  • AFSCME Local 2991 (Glenwood Resource Center and Iowa School for the Deaf) donated $250 to Toys for Tots and $150 to Love Tree (a local charity that gives toys to local underprivileged children).
  • AFSCME Local 2992 (Clarinda Mental Health Institute) donated $100 to Clarinda Toys for Tots and $100 to Page County Toys for Tots.
  • AFSCME Local 2993 (Cherokee Mental Health Institute) donated toys to Toys for Tots.
  • AFSCME Local 2997 (DOT District I - Ames) donated $500 to Toys for Tots.
  • AFSCME Local 2998 (DOT District II – Mason City) donated over $500 in toys to Toys for Tots.
  • AFSCME Local 3007 (Rockwell City Area) made donations to two families in need in the Rockwell City area.
  • AFSCME Local 3009 (Waterloo Area) donated $300 to Cedar Valley Food Bank and $300 to House of Hope in Waterloo.
  • AFSCME Local 3011 (Davenport Area) donated $100 to the Projects of the Q.C., $100 to the Vineyard No Kill Shelter, $100 to 180 Zone, and $100 to Annie's Angels.
  • AFSCME Local 3018 (Ottumwa Area) donated $150 to Lord’s Cupboard in Appanoose County, $150 to Workingman's Christmas, and $150 HACAP (Hawkeye Area Community Action Program) in Washington County.
  • AFSCME Local 3289, Chapter 7 (Community Based Corrections, 7th Judicial District Department of Correctional Services) donated $86.85 to the Center, $86.85 to King’s Harvest, and $86.85 to Winnie’s Place.
  • AFSCME Local 3450 (Capitol Complex) donated $1,000 to Toys for Tots, $200 to Parks Community Thanksgiving Dinner, $1,000 to the Food Bank of Iowa, and $1,200 to South Central Iowa Federation of Iowa Holiday Food Baskets.
  • AFSCME Local 3576 (Cedar Falls Municipal Utility) donated $1,000 in Thanksgiving food baskets and other assistance to families in need in the area. The donations were made through Operation Threshold.
  • AFSCME Local 3590 (City of Bloomfield) made a $300 donation to Lord’s Cupboard at Bloomfield Christian Church.
  • AFSCME Local 3861 (Des Moines Water Works, West Des Moines Water Work, Warren County Road, City of Johnston, City of Carlisle Public Works, and City of West Des Moines) was a sponsor of Jolly Holiday Lights, which benefits Make-a-Wish Iowa. AFSCME Local 3861 also donated $300 and toys to Toys for Tots.

Legislature Convenes
The 85th General Assembly began last week. The current legislature is split - the House majority is Republican (57 to 43); the Senate is controlled by Democrats (26-24). This once again leaves the Iowa Senate as the important firewall to block anti-worker legislation. Split control means any legislation or funding will require support from both Democrats and Republicans to become law.

Condition of the State
On the second day of session, Governor Branstad delivered his Condition of the State speech. Three of the main points of the Governor’s speech were 1) a call for more road funding (without specifics on how), 2) the continuation of his anti-bullying in schools effort, and 3) calls for increasing broadband access. Generally, the Governor’s speech this year stuck to non-controversial topics.

Governor’s Budget: Proposed closure of Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes (MHIs)
On the same day he delivered his Condition of the State speech, Governor Branstad released his budget recommendations for FY 2016 and FY 2017.

The Governor’s Budget proposed closing Mt. Pleasant MHI and Clarinda MHI. This proposal was quietly tucked in the budget – it was not mentioned in the Governor’s Speech. This proposal was formulated in a secretive manner: the Governor did not consult with clients and their families, community leaders, employees, or AFSCME. Even legislators were taken completely by surprise. You can read a copy of our Union’s statement on the closure proposal here.

We are asking members to contact their legislators to encourage them to oppose the Governor’s proposal to close these MHIs. Here are few things to emphasize:
• We need to be expanding mental health services in all corners of the state, not closing facilities.
• Closing these two facilities will mean more families will have to travel further to see their loved ones.
• Any changes that impact the care of the most vulnerable Iowans should be made only after extensive study and plentiful opportunities for public input.

You can look up your legislators’ contact information here. Please contact your legislators using a personal phone/computer/e-mail during non-work hours from a non-work location.

This will be a major issue this legislative session and our Union will continue to vigorously advocate keeping these facilities open.

Education Funding
Governor Branstad’s budget recommended only a 0.8 percent boost in base funding for schools. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal stated that Senate Democrats are “very concerned” that this could further drop Iowa’s ranking for education funding. Iowa House Minority Leader Mark Smith called the Governor’s proposed education funding level “just wrong” and contrasted it with the 9 percent proposed increase for the Governor’s Office in the Governor’s Budget.

IWD Director Retires
On the Sunday before session began, Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert’s retirement was announced. The Governor named Civil Rights Commission Administrator Beth Townsend as the acting director of Iowa Workforce Development. Don Grove was appointed acting director of the Civil Rights Commission. After a permanent director of Iowa Workforce Development is appointed, that person will go before the Iowa Senate for confirmation.

Legislative Forums
We strongly urge members to attend their legislators’ forums. We post links to legislative forum calendars on our website. We typically update this page on Wednesday or Thursday of each week.

January 19, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Our Union is not just a Union of those who are members at this exact moment. AFSCME is also a Union of those who came before us: they organized this Union, fought for better lives for their families, and taught us everything we know about being a member of AFSCME. That is why, at every Council convention, we silently watch a tribute to those AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members who are no longer with us.

We are also a Union for those who will follow us in the future. For the actions we take today affect not only our AFSCME brothers and sisters, but those who will follow in our footsteps. I cannot begin to estimate the number of times I have heard AFSCME members speak up in local meetings to state the importance of considering the impact something might have five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years down the road.

We also know that AFSCME is stronger when it has friends beyond our Union and even beyond the Labor Movement. At the last International Convention, International President Lee Saunders spoke about the importance of coalition-building being a top priority for our Union.

Today is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. To understand AFSCME, you must understand AFSCME’s history. And you cannot understand AFSCME’s history without knowing our connection to Dr. King.

On February 12, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, the members of AFSCME Local 1733 went on strike. They were sanitation workers. They did dangerous work – two workers died in an accident on a city truck earlier in the month. They faced discrimination, low wages, and had no voice on the job. They were striking to win recognition for their Union, all they wanted was for their employer to recognize their right to have a Union. To understand the struggle these workers went through to gain recognition of their Union, please read this timeline assembled by AFSCME Local 1733. For me, reading it leaves me with a sense of admiration and appreciation. None of the challenges we face today come anywhere close to those faced by the strikers in 1968.

Dr. King came to Memphis multiple times to support the strikers. On April 3, 1968, he delivered his renowned “I've been to the Mountaintop" speech in support of the strikers. The speech is one of the most powerful things I have ever read. Please read it. If you do nothing else today, learn a bit about our nation and AFSCME’s heritage by reading the speech and the timeline I linked to above.

The next day, Dr. King was assassinated on a balcony at his hotel in Memphis. By April 16th, an agreement was reached and the strike was over. Dr. King's support for the strikers was one of many examples of how his visionary leadership contributed to a more just society. All of us owe a debt of gratitude we can never repay to those who fought for justice at so much personal peril, including Dr. King and the Memphis sanitation strikers.

So as we move forward as a Union, we should always ask ourselves: how can we act as Union members to honor this legacy that was left for us? How can we act as AFSCME members to leave as strong a legacy for the next generation?

In Solidarity,


Danny Homan, President
AFSCME Iowa Council 61

January 14, 2015

DES MOINES – Today, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement about Governor Branstad’s recommendation to close the Clarinda and Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institutes:

“The well-being of the clients who rely on DHS facilities must come first in any decision about those facilities’ future.

“This decision by the Branstad Administration to propose closing these facilities has taken almost everyone by surprise, including legislators. Before releasing this recommendation as part of the budget, Governor Branstad does not appear to have sought the opinion of the families of the clients of these two facilities, legislators, community leaders, employees, or AFSCME. The Iowa Department of Human Services even requested funds to operate these facilities; however, the Governor removed those funds from his budget

“The fact that this proposal was quietly tucked into a large budget book without explanation and not even mentioned by the Governor in his Condition of the State speech is yet another failure of the Governor to live up to his promises of a transparent and open government.

“Such a drastic recommendation that will impact the care of some of the most vulnerable Iowans should have not been reached behind closed doors. This sort of secretive government is wrong and it is not good for Iowans, especially those who will be affected by this decision.

“The recommendation already appears to be impacting care. Rep. Dave Heaton said that he was told by the Administration that the facilities have stopped accepting new patients and filling job vacancies. These sort of unilateral moves toward closure without consulting the legislature is inappropriate.

“AFSCME Iowa Council 61 believes the future of these facilities should be decided by the Legislature after extensive opportunities for input by all. The vulnerable Iowans who rely on these facilities deserve nothing less.”
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January 11, 2015

The South Central Iowa Federation of Labor and United Way of Central Iowa asked us to share this information on upcoming Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Please feel free to share this information far and wide. Click “Read more,” at the end of this post to reach a page where you can download the full flier from the United Way of Central Iowa. The information below is excerpted directly from their flier:

If you earned $58,000 or less in 2014, you may be eligible to receive FREE tax preparation. You also may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or Child Care Tax Credits. This is your money to keep and save.

Call 2-1-1 for more information. 2-1-1 is free and available 24/7.

2015 SITES

ANKENY

DMACC, Ankeny Campus
2006 S. Ankeny Blvd.
Call 2-1-1 for info Opens January 21

Neveln Center
406 S.W. School St.
By appointment; call 2-1-1 to schedule
Tues. 9-2, Wed. 5-8, Thurs. 9-2, Sat. 9-2
Opens January 21

DES MOINES

United Way of Central Iowa
1111 9th St., Room E
Mon. 5-8, Tues. 9-2, Wed. 5-8, Fri. 9-2,
Sat. 9-2 (German and Bosnian available on
Monday evenings and Spanish on Saturdays)
Opens January 21

DMACC Southridge Mall
1111 E. Army Post Road
Tues. 5-8, Thurs. 9-2, Fri. 9-2, Sat. 9-2
Opens January 21

DES MOINES SUPERSITE
Polk County River Place (former Target building)
2309 Euclid Ave., Room 3A
Mon. 9-2, Tues. 5-8, Wed. 9-2, Thurs. 5-8,
Sat. 9-2 Opens January 21

INDIANOLA
WeLift/Trinity United Presbyterian Church
106 E. 2nd Ave. (Hwy 92)
By appointment; call 2-1-1 to schedule
Mon. 5-8, Wed. 5-8, Fri. 9-2 Opens January 21

PERRY
First Presbyterian Church
1323 4th St.
Call 2-1-1 for hours and appointments
Wed. 5-8 on Feb. 11, 18, 25; March 4, 18;
and April 1, 8, 15
Sat. 8-4, on Feb. 7, 14, 21, 28; March 13, 27;
and April 11 Opens January 21

This list is subject to change. Please call 2-1-1 for the most current information.

Read more >>>

December 31, 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the eve of 2015, I have been thinking about the years past and the year ahead. I recently celebrated my 27th anniversary of employment with AFSCME Iowa Council 61. As I think back on those 27 years, I feel honored for the opportunity and thankful for the solidarity of my AFSCME sisters and brothers.

Wow how things have changed in the past 27 years; there have been many ups and some downs. However, through it all, I’ve always known that AFSCME members will stand up, have each other’s backs and fight for what is right.

I cannot say with certainty what all the challenges and opportunities we will face in 2015 are, but I can say there will be challenges. There are certainly many known challenges by those who seek to attack labor on the national, state, and local levels – yet there can also be unforeseen challenges. However, I do know what the answer is to challenges known and unknown: solidarity. We have to commit ourselves to each other; if we live by the belief that AFSCME is OUR UNION, not “the Union,” we can face down anything. We have to be willing to fight for our rights and protect each other against those who want to destroy us. We must realize who is trying to hurt us and we need to quit blaming the Union when things don’t go the way we would like. Remember that the wages and benefits we have were not given to us, they were bargained for and without the Union many of these benefits will disappear.

Please have a safe and Happy New Year’s.

In Solidarity,

Danny Homan, President
AFSCME Iowa Council 61

December 24, 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The generosity and community spirit of AFSCME members never ceases to amaze me. In particular, this holiday season, there has been an outpouring of support by our membership for Toys for Tots and other charitable causes. Thank you to everyone that has supported these charitable efforts. I know that many Iowa families will have a happier holiday season thanks to the kindness of our members.

For me, the holiday season helps me reflect on the importance of being a friend, not just those I know in my day to day activities but to those who are less fortunate. As part of the way I was raised, I believe we need to help those who are less fortunate and I believe the members of this Union by the very nature of their work do that every day.

Whether you draw these values of compassion and humanity from your own upbringing or another source, I know that we all share a desire to build a better community, a better state, a better nation, and a better world. Besides consistently standing up for our members and our families, our Union has a long and proud history of working for a more just society. From our support for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s to our activism for increasing the minimum wage today, AFSCME is proud of our commitment to social justice. Our involvement in charitable endeavors is another facet of our deeply rooted public mindedness and community spirit. I know that my brothers and sisters of AFSCME Iowa Council 61 will always seek to help and be a friend to those in need.

Please have a safe and joyous holiday season. Please take some time to thank the AFSCME members who will be required to work on Christmas Day. Please take time to think of those American service men and women who are currently overseas protecting freedom and to thank any veterans, active service members, and their families for their sacrifice.

Season’s Greetings,

Danny Homan, President
AFSCME Iowa Council 61

December 21, 2014

AFSCME Local 3861 (Central Iowa Water & Public Works) is a proud sponsor of Jolly Holiday Lights, which benefits Make A Wish Iowa.

Click "Read more" to see a larger image.

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December 18, 2014

AFSCME Local 183 is supporting the Crisis Center of Johnson County this holiday season!

Pictured: Larry Fitzpatrick (AFSCME Local 183 President), right, presents a $500 donation to Adam Sullivan with the Crisis Center.

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December 17, 2014

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 is proud to be a major sponsor of Toys for Tots in the KCCI viewing area. Check out our 2014 Toys for Tots ad that is airing on KCCI!

December 17, 2014

It is not easy to become a leader. It requires a lot of hard work and learning by practice – often by learning from one’s own mistakes. The process can be a lot less intimidating if someone has a mentor and advice from others.

That’s the idea behind the AFSCME Women’s Leadership Academy. This program, conducted by the International Union, seeks to help prepare “AFSCME women for future leadership roles in our union.” This year’s class included 30 women from around the country who were paired with 16 mentors. Two AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members, Candace Acord of AFSCME Local 3289 (Community Based Corrections) and Emily Stowe of AFSCME Local 2659 (University of Northern Iowa), were part of this year’s AFSCME Women’s Leadership Academy.

Candace Acord said the most valuable part of the academy was “meeting women who were leaders all across the country.” She added that “learning by example is often the best way to learn. My mentor, Patty Taylor of AFSCME Local 3707 in Akron, Ohio, was able to give me many effective tips on how to be a good leader. She taught me how to use technology to my advantage and emphasized that working smarter is even more important than working harder.”

Each participant had to develop a project to work on back in their home state. Candace has been working to push for legislation that would add a labor representative to each correctional services (community based corrections) board in Iowa. Her mentor Patty, who works in IT, helped Candace move past her technological-shyness and learn how to design Power Points and a website to better tell the story of community based corrections employees.

“I have always believed that workers should have a voice that should be listened to by elected officials. With the skills I learned from the academy and my mentor, I can be more effective in telling our message to elected officials and the public,” said Acord.

Emily Stowe’s mentor, Cherrene Horazuk of AFSCME Local 3800 at the University of Minnesota, was the perfect match for Emily and her project. Emily once considered journalism as a career and still finds it fascinating. That’s why she chose the creation of a local newsletter as her project. Cherrene had a lot of experience making a newsletter for her local and was able to give Emily many tips both on the technical/software aspects and on the messaging aspects of newsletter creation.

“It was very neat when she taught me that I could get more people to open the electronic version of newsletter by coming up with a catchier subject line – and showed me how to test it,” said Stowe.

“I can tell my newsletter is helping keep my brothers and sisters informed. After I wrote an article about a town hall held by consultants hired by the Board of Regents, I had several members tell me that reading who said what at the town hall was very helpful to them,” said Stowe.

Both Candace and Emily plan to continue their projects now that they have graduated from the academy. Furthermore, they also want to find a way to help more AFSCME women in Iowa become leaders. “Candace and I both felt the exchange of ideas and mentoring were amazing. We are going to work together to try to find a way that we can mentor AFSCME women here in Iowa,” said Stowe.

Click "Read more" to view a larger picture.

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December 17, 2014

Yesterday, AFSCME Local 451 (Newton Correctional Facility and Iowa Correctional Institute for Women employees) presented a $5000 donation to Toys for Tots on air on KCCI television! Thank you AFSCME Local 451 members!

Pictured with the check: Nate Ross (AFSCME Local 451 President) and Todd Givens? (AFSCME Local 451 Vice President).

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December 16, 2014

On Friday, December 12th and Saturday, December 13th, three special conventions were held to fill three vacant positions on the AFSCME Iowa Council 61 Executive Board.

At the Special Convention for District 1, Deb Shepherd of AFSCME Local 3450 was elected as an AFSCME Iowa Council 61 District 1 Vice President (at-large seat). Deb is also the President of AFSCME Local 3450. Deb works as a Workforce Advisor at Iowa Workforce Development and has been an AFSCME member for more than thirteen years.

“It is an honor to represent my sisters and brothers as an AFSCME Iowa Council 61 Executive Board member. With so many challenges facing working people, I am glad to be an AFSCME member,” said Shepherd.

At the Special Convention for District 5, Nathan Osbon of AFSCME Local 2989 was elected as an AFSCME Iowa Council 61 District 5 Vice President (at-large seat). Nathan is also the President of AFSCME Local 2989. Nathan works as a Correctional Officer at Iowa State Penitentiary and has been an AFSCME member for more than twelve years.

“Our Union does so much good on behalf of our members. I am pleased to be able to further help our Union do that,” said Osbon.

At the Special Convention for District 6, Candace Acord of AFSCME Local 3289-6 was elected as an AFSCME Iowa Council 61 District 6 Vice President (at-large seat). Candace is also the Treasurer for AFSCME Local 3289 and the Recording Secretary for Chapter 6 of AFSCME Local 3289. Candace works as a Probation Officer at the 6th District Department of Correctional Services and has been an AFSCME member for more than twenty-one years.

“My AFSCME sisters and brothers have always had my back. I am excited about working on their behalf on the Executive Board,” said Acord.

Congratulations to the newly elected members of the Executive Board!

(Pictured Left to Right: Deb Shepherd, Nathan Osbon, and Candace Acord)

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December 13, 2014

MASON CITY – Today, AFSCME Local 2998 donated over $500 worth of toys to Toys for Tots. The toys were donated at an event at KIMT-TV in Mason City.

The picture from the event shows AFSCME members and family presenting the Toys for Tots donation. Pictured are:
Front Row Left to Right: Wesley Greer and Bailey Erickson
Back Row Left to Right: Craig Greer, Daryl Erickson, Vance Wendel, Tim Theilen, and Curt Moore

“Our members know that we are part of a strong North Iowa community that cares for each other. We are glad to make this donation and help bring joy to children this holiday season,” said AFSCME Local 2998 President Daryl Erickson.

AFSCME Local 2998 represents Iowa Department of Transportation employees who work in DOT District II, which includes the Mason City area.

In Iowa, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 represents 40,000 public employees including law enforcement and correctional officers, firefighters, mental health workers, professional school staff, emergency responders, and many other workers. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 also represents home health care and child care providers across the state and private sector workers at Prairie Meadows, Palmer College of Chiropractic, Des Moines University, and ABM (Marshalltown).

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December 10, 2014

AFSCME Local 183 is proud to support the North Liberty Community Pantry with a $500 donation! Pictured is Tina Du Bois, the pantry director, and Mike Weinard (Retired-AFSCME Local 183).

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December 10, 2014

AFSCME Local 35 members are proud to support Toys for Tots this holiday season.

Pictured left to right with the AFSCME Local 35's donation: James Murrell (AFSCME Local 35 Vice President), Don Ehm (AFSCME Local 35 Treasurer), Ray Woodrich (AFSCME Local 35 President), Jeff Davis (AFSCME Local 35 Executive Board Member), James Woodyard (AFSCME Local 35 Member). Jeff Doane (AFSCME Local 35 Recording Secretary), and Ben Veach (AFSCME Local 35 Member).

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December 8, 2014

AFSCME Local 2993 (Cherokee Mental Health Institute and CCUSO employees) is proud to be supporting Toys for Tots!

Pictured with donated toys: AFSCME Local 2993 Executive Board Member Ann Gerdes-Dornack, Cherokee Chief of Police Steve Schuck, and AFSCME Local 2993 President Janet Hansen.

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December 5, 2014

The AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members in the West Des Moines Water Works Chapter of AFSCME Local 3861 are proud to be donating toys to Toys for Tots.

Pictured left to right with the toys donated by Chapter members: Vinny White (AFSCME Local 3861 West Des Moines Water Chapter Chair), Danny Homan (AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President), and Kevin Trevillyan (AFSCME Local 3861 Member).

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December 4, 2014

 

Today, AFSCME Local 2985 donated $4,500 to Toys for Tots at an event at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center. Michele Matt, the Toys for Tots representative for Linn County, accepted the donation on behalf of Toys for Tots.

Pictured from left to right are: Jason Moats (AFSCME Local 2985 Vice President), Michele Matt (Linn Co. Toys for Tots Representative), Marty Hathaway (AFSCME Local 2985 President), Jeff Walker (AFSCME Local 2985 Executive Board Member), Diana Fitzsimmons (AFSCME Local 2985 Executive Board Member), and SSGT Jake Busteed (US Marine).

“Every child should have an opportunity to experience the joy of a gift this holiday season. AFSCME Local 2985 members are proud to support Toys for Tots,” said AFSCME Local 2985 President Marty Hathaway.

The donation is a continuation of efforts made by Local 2985 in 2011, 2012, and 2013. In 2011, several AFSCME Local 2985 members returned from military deployments. When the local’s membership asked how to best honor these returning veterans, the veterans asked the local to make donations to Toys for Tots.

In Iowa, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 represents 40,000 public employees including law enforcement and correctional officers, firefighters, mental health workers, professional school staff, emergency responders, and many other workers. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 also represents home health care and child care providers across the state and private sector workers at Prairie Meadows, Palmer College of Chiropractic, Des Moines University, and ABM (Marshalltown).

AFSCME Local 2985 represents employees at the Iowa Medical & Classification Center, which is part of the Iowa Department of Corrections.

Click "Read more" to see a larger version of the check presentation picture.

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December 3, 2014

AFSCME Local 183 has made a $500 contribution to the 2014 Homeless Children's Trust Christmas Shopping & Party for the Iowa City area. Local 183 represents many City of Iowa City, City of Coralville, and Johnson County employees. Pictured, from left, are Mary Larew, HCT Shopping & Party chairperson, and Chris Weinard, treasurer of AFSCME Local 183.

Click "Read more" to see a larger version of this image.

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December 3, 2014

The Holidays Issue of the Iowa Unionist, our newsletter, is now available for download. In this issue:

  • International-Secretary-Treasurer Laura Reyes Visits With Members Across Iowa
  • President's Message
  • AFSCME Gear
  • AFSCME Member Assists with Honor Flight
  • Toys for Tots
  • Locals Celebrate Anniversaries
  • AFSCME Member Starts Innovative Non-profit
  • Ask the Attorney
  • New Organizing Staff

Click "Read more" to reach a page where you can download the newsletter.

Read more >>>

December 2, 2014

AFSCME Local 1127 is spreading holiday cheer! In this photo, AFSCME members present a $50 donation to the Guttenberg Police Department's Christmas Family Fund, which will help a Guttenberg family in need this holiday season. City Manager Mary Willet accepted the check on behalf of the Police Department.

Pictured left to right are:
Back: Steve McLane, Mat Ries, Dan Pierce, Al Troester, Denny Roth, and Steve Bahls.
Front: Debbie Eulberg, Jamie Blume, Kari Hoyheim, and Mary Willett

AFSCME member Eric Sullivan was unable to attend the photo.

Click "Read more" to view a larger version of the photo.

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November 22, 2014

AFSCME Local 2987 (Independence Mental Health Institute) is spreading Holiday Cheer! Click "Read more" to see two pictures where AFSCME Local 2987 members are presenting $500 donations to Operation Santa and the Independence Food Pantry.

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November 21, 2014

Thank you to AFSCME Local 1868 (Polk County Employees and City of Ankeny Public Works Employees) for their generous donation to Toys for Tots! AFSCME Local 1868 is definitely spreading holiday cheer this season.

Left to right: Ronnie Morgan, John Tyler, Santa, and Amanda Tyler.

Click on "Read more" to see a larger picture.

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November 11, 2014

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

One week ago, our nation held an election. Like me, many of you were probably disappointed about the results in many of the races. However, for me, a little bit of time, and the specialness of this day, Veterans Day, have helped put things in perspective.

We are blessed to live in a nation that chooses its leaders on Election Day and not have them chosen for us by kings, dictators, religious leaders, or military leaders. As Americans, we owe that freedom to many who took part in the continuing process to make our nation a more perfect union: our founding fathers, the abolitionists, the suffragettes, the labor unionists, civil rights activists, and the many who continue the push for justice and equality to this very day. On this day, we honor those who gave so much to protect our freedom: America’s veterans past and present.

Here’s a simple fact. Without the sacrifices of America’s veterans, last Tuesday’s election would not have happened. Nor would the 113 federal elections that preceded last Tuesday’s election have happened. Beyond our nation’s borders, a significant portion of the world enjoys freedom and democracy thanks to the sacrifices of our veterans and those of our allies.

Our veterans have been through so much: they have been away from their families in distant lands, they have seen the horrors of war, they have lost friends on the field of battle, and they have had to face the challenges of returning to civilian life.

On this Veterans Day, please take a moment to thank any veterans you may know as well as their families. And during the rest of the year, for this year and all the years to come, remember our veterans and support them and the services they need.

The greatest honor of my life was to swear the enlistment oath to support and defend the Constitution. This Veterans Day I will be thinking of all the veterans who are still with us and the many that no longer are with us.

In Solidarity,


Danny Homan, President
AFSCME Iowa Council 61
United States Army, 1971-1973

October 30, 2014

Our newest volunteer of the week is Dan Bednar of AFSCME Local 3015! Dan understands how this election will impact our collective bargaining rights and the future of our families and communities. Dan has volunteered countless times to help his State Senator, Daryl Beall, who is a friend to all working families. Dan also makes sure to explain the importance of this election to his AFSCME sisters and brothers, his friends, and his neighbors.

Click "Read more" to see a larger version of the picture of Dan.

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October 24, 2014

Our newest volunteer of the week is Candace Acord of AFSCME Local 3289! This past month, Candace has sent her weekends helping members and voters sign up to vote early in this years elections. This past week after a day of door knocking in the rain, Candace organized a Chili Phone Bank for State Senate Candidate, Kevin Kinney in North Liberty. Little things like this help motivate volunteers into our final push the last week before GOTV. Thank you Candace!

Click "Read More" to see a higher resolution picture of Candace and picture of the chili at Candace's phone bank!

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October 16, 2014

Our newest volunteer of the week is Mike Gass of AFSCME Local 451! Mike has been tireless in his efforts on behalf of AFSCME recommended candidates. He has knocked doors in Altoona for Joe Riding and Chaz Allen, knocked doors in Urbandale for John Forbes, and traveled to Ottumwa to knock doors for his AFSCME brother Steve Siegel. Mike makes sure that his AFSCME brothers and sisters understand the impacts that elections have on their jobs and their families.

Click “Read more” to view a larger picture of Mike!

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October 10, 2014

Andy Bock of AFSCME Local 96 is our newest volunteer of the week! Andy has always been a very active political volunteer and is kicking his volunteering into an even higher gear as we approach this important election that will affect our members, their families, and our communities.  Andy has door knocked for many AFSCME recommended candidates including Chaz Allen, Joe Riding, and Steve Siegel. He has phone banked his AFSCME brothers and sisters to encourage them vote by mail.  He is also very active locally in Story County in signing up members to early vote and works closely with Senator Quirmbach, his state senator.

(Click "Read more" to see a larger picture of Andy Bock just before he heads out to knock some doors!)

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October 6, 2014

Deb Murphy of AFSCME Local 2985 is our volunteer of the week! Deb has been a strong political activist this campaign, coming in Wednesdays to phone bank for Linn County State Representative, Daniel Lundby. To add to this, Deb brings her 14 year old grandson, Keagan, with her and puts him to work as well. She teaches him the importance of voting and helping elect public officials who care about working families. Deb is doing all she can to stand up for her fellow union members and her community by staying involved this last month of the election.

(Click "Read more' to see a larger picture of Deb and Keagan as they phone bank.)

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October 1, 2014

Jean McMaken of AFSCME Local 96 is our volunteer of the week! Jean volunteers at least two nights a week for her local Iowa Senate candidate Herman Quirmbach. On the other nights of the week she makes member to member phone calls in our targeted legislative races. On most Saturdays and Sundays she is out door knocking in her community and elsewhere. During the primary election Jean traveled to Ottumwa to knock doors for Steve Sieigel, one of her AFSCME brothers. Jean is passionate about the cause and is someone we can always rely on to do whatever is needed to elect candidates that support the middle class.

(Click "Read more" to see a larger picture of Jean with Rep. Mark Smith.)

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September 26, 2014

Mike Weinard is our volunteer of the week! Through out this election, Mike has stepped up to any task, whether it be canvassing, making phone calls, or taking out the office trash, Mike is there for our team. This week alone, Mike has volunteered on four different campaigns. Starting with Kevin Kinney last Saturday in North Liberty, driving to Waverly on Sunday to help our Union sister, Teresa Meyer, continuing the week helping make phone calls for local candidates, and ending it supporting Daniel Lundby in Marion.

Mike is a retiree of AFSCME Locals 183 and 2983.

Mike works tirelessly to support candidates that respect public employees and value the services we provide to our community. Please give Mike a thank you for all he does for his AFSCME brothers and sisters.

Click "Read more" to see two larger pictures of Mike volunteering.

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September 24, 2014

(Pictured Left to Right at ALS Walk: Morgan Williams (daughter of Jason), Local 212 Vice President Jason Williams, Local 212 President Chris De Harty, Local 212 Executive Board Member Wage Boogerd, and Local 212 Executive Board Member Ron Isaacson)

While the nationwide awareness of ALS has increased dramatically with the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge, members of AFSCME Local 212 were already well aware of the struggles of those fighting ALS. That’s because Jerry Barcus, a 26 year employee of the City of Sioux City and Local 212 member, has been battling ALS since 2012.

AFSCME Local 212 members had already worked together to build a ramp for Jerry at his home; however, they were still looking for a way they could do more to help fight ALS. With an ALS walk in Sioux City coming up, they decided to come together with management to raise money to fight ALS. AFSCME Local 212 President Chris De Harty and Parks Superintendent Kelly Bach pledged to do the walk twice if $500 could be raised. If $750 could be raised, Parks Superintendent Bach pledged to dye her hair purple for a future city council meeting. Dozens of AFSCME members donated to support the cause.

The walk was held on September 7th in Sioux City and the team consisting of AFSCME Local 212 and management raised $850 to support the fight against ALS! Jerry Barcus completed the ALS Walk in his wheelchair. In addition to Jerry, the following AFSCME Local 212 members and family participated in the walk: Chris De Harty, Jason Williams, Morgan Williams, Teresa Pynn Borchers, Wade Boogerd, Tricia McKean De Harty, and Ron Isaacson. Local 212 also helped provide fun activities for kids who attended the walk, including face painting and a bounce house.

In addition to the walk, several members also donated funds to help fight ALS through the ice bucket challenge.

Local 212 President Chris De Harty said “it was really exciting to see our local membership’s strong support for the fight against ALS. As public employees, we help improve our communities both on the job and outside of work. Our participation in the walk was a great way to show our solidarity with Brother Barcus.”

Jerry Barcus said “I’ve been a union member for decades. I’ve been glad to help my brothers and sisters when they needed help. And now my brothers and sisters have taken time to away from their families to help me and to help fight against ALS. It really shows how no AFSCME member is ever truly alone.”

September 19, 2014

DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement regarding the recent discovery of drugs and contraband at the North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City:

“Director Baldwin needs to come clean about the effects of low staffing and the lack of sufficient training at Iowa’s correctional facilities. The discovery of approximately 600 pills, four cell phones, and four cell phone chargers at the North Central Correctional Facility represents a failure of Warden Cornell Smith, Director John Baldwin, and Governor Terry Branstad’s correctional policies.

“Since this incident, numerous inmates at the North Central Correctional Facility have tested positive for marijuana. Yet no marijuana has yet been found. So our question for Warden Smith and Director Baldwin is: where is the marijuana?

“For years Director Baldwin and Governor Branstad have claimed Iowa’s correctional facilities are sufficiently staffed. This recent major discovery of contraband once again shows those claims to be false.

“Iowa’s correctional system employees work hard every day to keep us safe. It is my understanding that no employees of the North Central Correctional Facility are responsible for bringing this contraband into the prison. We believe that it was a member of the public which perpetrated this major security breach.

Warden Smith, Director Baldwin, and Governor Branstad need to take responsibility for their policies that have led to low staffing, insufficient training, and this security breach in Rockwell City."

###


Danny Homan Remarks at the Nuns on the Bus Rally for the 100%.

September 17, 2014

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan spoke at the Nuns on the Bus Rally for the 100%. His remarks focused on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the need to raise the minimum wage.

September 8, 2014

In February, Jim Payton retired after many years as a proud AFSCME Local 2985 member and correctional officer at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville. Jim helped keep us safe in more ways than one. Not only did he work for many years as a correctional officer – he’s also a veteran.

When Jim saw the poor condition of the seats in the Veterans Memorial Building’s auditorium in Cedar Rapids, he knew he had to find a way to pay tribute to our nation’s veterans by repairing the seats.

Jim worked with other veterans at the Iowa Veterans Welcome Center to get started on the painstaking process of restoring the seats. About half the seats have been repaired so far.

Jim’s work was recently featured in a Cedar Rapids Gazette story and video.

Take a moment to read a bit about the efforts of Jim and his fellow veterans. It will definitely make you feel proud.

September 8, 2014

Dear AFSCME Local Presidents and Recording Secretaries,

We have some exciting news about a new way AFSCME members can show their Union Pride and support some great causes. Last year, we introduced T-Shirts to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. The shirts were quite popular and many members requested more ways that they could support the fight against breast cancer and other worthy causes.

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 is proud to announce that we are selling support pins. The proceeds will go to various charitable efforts. We have four support pins: a pink ribbon to support breast cancer awareness and research, a yellow ribbon to support veterans and their families, a red ribbon to support the Special Olympics of Iowa, and a purple ribbon to support the Workers Memorial.

Pins can be purchased for $5 each.

Click "Read more" in order to reach a page where you can download a flier with a larger image of the support pins.

Individuals or Local Unions can purchase the pins. For questions on ordering, please stop by or contact the AFSCME Iowa Council 61 office.

These are great causes and I strongly encourage AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members to support them.

In Solidarity,

 

Danny Homan, President
AFSCME Iowa Council 61

Read more >>>


August 26, 2014

AFSCME International takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - the video includes AFSCME International President Lee Saunders, Steve Fantauzzo, and Jessica Weinstein accepting the challenge issued by AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan.

Click "Read more" to go to our AFSCME Gear Catalog page and to learn how you can order your AFSCME gear! Read more >>>

May 22, 2014

It’s hard to imagine far-right wing political ideology becoming so twisted that one of its standard bearers would step up to a podium and assert poor children are better off going hungry.

Yet when Paul Ryan addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this spring he did just that, bashing progressives for supporting federally funded school lunch programs. He accused those of us, uncomfortable with children going hungry, of offering them “a full belly and an empty soul.”

In service of this deeply troubling belief, he told a story about a boy getting a federally funded school lunch who asked for it in a brown paper bag like his classmates, because that – according to Ryan – meant they had parents who cared about them.

Paul Ryan’s politics dictates that it’s better for a child to go hungry than get help. Paul Ryan’s politics dictates that parents who rely on public assistance don’t care about their children. Paul Ryan’s politics dictates that those who are down on their luck – even children – are soulless, not the Wall Street bankers who crashed our nation’s economy and continue to crush the American middle class, necessitating such assistance in the first place.

It speaks volumes that Ryan's CPAC story wasn't even true. The politician, who was himself something of a serial fibber during his failed 2012 campaign, attributed this brown bag story to a political appointee of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Walker’s appointee testified before Congress last year that she met the boy in the story, which was a lie. She yanked the story out of a book.

Here we have the quintessential right-wing ideologue talking point: It pushes shameful policy, it conveys utter disdain for Americans who find themselves in need of help, and it’s based on a lie.

We don’t need to dig too deeply to figure out why Ryan would tell such a story at CPAC – the conference intended to fire up the ultra-conservative base. He needs the support of his ground troops for a proposed 2014 House budget that cuts billions from federal programs, which fight childhood hunger. That includes a proposed budget cut of $137 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), including $63 billion specifically allocated for child nutrition.

It was a red meat speech from the leader of a political movement hell bent on ensuring nothing’s left on the bones for the poor and middle class in our country.

And for anyone who thinks these politicians will blink when it comes time to actually dump children from these nutrition programs, Ryan and his colleagues offer this: Try us.

Last year, their federal sequester eliminated 750,000 mothers and children from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program that provides baby formula for infants and food for children. And the latest reauthorization of school meals only increased funding for school meals by 6 cents, which isn't enough to keep pace with rising food costs and new requirements. Even worse, there was no increase for meals given to children in Head Start and child care programs.

I don't need statistics to tell me how perverse Ryan’s politics of attacking children and their parents is. I know what it’s like to live on the margins in this country. As a single mother making far too little as a home care provider, I once relied on federal assistance programs to help feed my children.

As AFSCME members, we work with children every day – in schools, in day cares, in county and state programs. We see the effects of childhood hunger. We don't see children sent to school by parents who don't care about them. Unlike Ryan, we don't obsess about cutting government at all costs even if it means children going hungry. We figure out how to make government work for everybody, not just the wealthy few.

We see our own children if we’ve ever relied on help to feed them. If we are fortunate to never need such help, we see – and this would really be a stretch for politicians like Ryan – our neighbor’s children and act not out of our own self-interest, but out of the interest of the most vulnerable in our community.

We see that a program ensuring children have full bellies is in fact the heart and soul of America on full display. To see otherwise is perverted politics. To see otherwise is soulless.

May 7, 2014

You can now visit the AFSCME In Our Communities page and learn all about the many community activities of AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members. You can download the booklet, read individual profiles, and look at the large sampling of our members' community activities.

April 29, 2014

Click here to Read President Danny Homan's column in today's Des Moines Register about protecting the privacy of public employees and their families.

December 17, 2013

By a vote of 233 to 103, employees in the State of Iowa’s education bargaining unit voted to be represented by AFSCME Iowa Council 61. The results of the mail ballot election were announced by the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board today. It is the largest bargaining unit election won by AFSCME Iowa Council 61 since the 1990s.

Education unit employees include teachers in state institutions, librarians, workers who assist disabled Iowans in obtaining services and benefits, workers who assist school districts in designing curricula and improving special education and school lunch services, and many other employees.

The State of Iowa’s education bargaining unit dates back to the beginning of Iowa’s public employee collective bargaining law in the 1970s. However, until now, the unit had remained without union representation.

Education unit employees saw the benefits of having a seat at the bargaining table and having a voice in determining their pay, benefits, and working conditions. Several education unit employees contacted AFSCME Iowa Council 61 about organizing. Council 61 organizers and International organizers worked closely with these volunteer leaders to reach out to hundreds of state employees in person. These efforts made a difference vote by vote and signed green card by signed green card.

Today, the results of all that hard work are apparent. Please welcome our new sisters and brothers in the State of Iowa education unit!

We're Your Community. We're Your Neighbors.

AFSCME Iowa Council 61
4320 NW Second Ave, Des Moines IA 50313
Phone and Fax: 515-246-1517 or (800)-372-6054 or 515-244-6467 (fax)

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