AFSCME Iowa Council 61 - Every Day. Everywhere. Making Iowa Better.


AFSCME IVP Henry Nicholas knows the Charleston community well, having rallied workers and families in front of the Emanuel African Methodist Church during the historic 1969 strike by black workers at Medical College Hospital.


Progress Iowa is a multi-issue progressive advocacy organization with a network of more than 60,000 progressives. Year-round, Progress Iowa advocates for a stronger middle class, first-class public education, and fairness for all Iowans under the law.

Progress Iowa has advocated for important policies such as Medicaid expansion, raising the minimum wage, and protecting Iowans against wage theft. Progress Iowa has fought against outsourcing and cuts to vital services that Iowans need. It has held elected officials accountable and raised awareness of the anti-worker agenda of groups like ALEC.

We encourage AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members to become active in Progress Iowa. Joining Progress Iowa is easy: just sign up for their e-mail list in the upper right corner of their website and like their Facebook page.

By Morgan Miller

There was excitement in the air as our group of young AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members got ready to leave for the Next Wave Conference. The six of us piled in the car and headed to Missouri not knowing what to expect. We ended up being blown away by the unity, diversity, and energy we felt at this conference.

Friday began with a powerful speech from our International President, Lee Saunders, who rallied us by speaking of the importance of the next generation of Union members in our country. He asked us to step up to the plate and “remember where our Union came from, blood, sweat and tears! You all have a responsibility to lead this Union forward!”

President Saunders with Liz Hopkins and Carly Reetz (Local 451)

We all attended the AFSCME Strong orientation, where we learned how to listen to our fellow members and have conversations with them. This was especially powerful for our Next Wave generation, where members don’t always know the ropes of collective bargaining and can really benefit from a one on one conversation about our Union to move them to action and be heard.

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members talk with members from around the country about AFSCME Strong, Pictured above: Liz Hopkins (Local 451), Carly Reetz (Local 451), and Karl Althaus (Local 1868)

Team Iowa headed to the field Friday afternoon. Over 300 Next Wavers marched in front of a homecare agency in St. Louis that was ignoring the contract of their homecare employees. Attendant Care workers stood with us, and after an afternoon marching in 95 degree heat, the agency opened their doors and to begin talks with our Union. The energy of this march was unbelievable, whenever one of us was tired, someone else was there to shout the next chant and bring our spirits up. My favorite chant happens to be the PEOPLE chant (maybe I’m biased :) …); “What do we want? …PEOPLE POWER; When do we want it? …NOW!”

Carly Reetz (Local 451), Karl Althaus (Local 1868), and Liz Hopkins (Local 451) marching at Homecare Rally

We ended our night at the Next Wave PEOPLE Party, where we raised hundreds of dollars for PEOPLE through Karaoke and dance. Iowa proudly came to the conference with 100% PEOPLE MVP membership in our delegation.

Edgar Ortiz (Local 3450), Morgan Miller, Karl Althaus (Local 1868), Carly Reetz (Local 451), Liz Hopkins (Local 451), and Andrew Williams

Saturday started off with an inspiring speech from Secretary-Treasurer Laura Reyes (who happened to be quite the dancer at the PEOPLE Party). Secretary-Treasurer Reyes spoke on economic inequality, a critical issue our generation is facing.

We talked about the importance of the PEOPLE program, and were reminded with a powerful chant: “This is for our pensions, this is for our community, and this is for our Union!” There was sense of power in the room we felt knowing that the 500+ people there were all ready to stand up to corporate money in politics. The Next Wave program represents some of our most progressive members who truly want to stand up for workers’ rights.

Our afternoon was filled with workshops on a variety of topics from Mentorship programs to the History of our Union. These workshops provided an opportunity for our members to interact with fellow members from around the country and learn how to grow Next Wave at home.

With heavy hearts and sleepy eyes, Sunday morning we got up for our last day of convention. We ended the trip with an interactive Question and Answers session with attendees sharing our plans for our states. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members decided Next Wave gives us the power to the move our union into the future we want to see!

Edgar Ortiz (Local 3450), Morgan Miller, Liz Hopkins (Local 451), Karl Althaus (Local 1868)

We were all so thankful we all had this opportunity and would like to see Next Wave interwoven within our Union in Iowa. We want Next Wavers to be the next generation of activists!

If you have any questions about Next Wave and how to grow our Union by activating our younger members, please contact me at!


May 22, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Across our world, America’s fallen heroes lie on sacred ground. They are there by the thousands at the American cemetery in Normandy, France. They rest in small country cemeteries like the one in Glidden, Iowa where Merle Hay, the first Iowan (and possibly first American) to die in service of the US in World War I, is buried. They rest in the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. Many are still missing: their locations in places in Vietnam, Korea, France, Italy, and the oceans known only to a higher power.

We owe these Americans who died in service to this country so much. We owe them, as well as their comrades in arms who returned from war, honor and respect. We owe it to them make sure our veterans are treated well and receive the services they need.

We also owe it to them to respect what they fought for. They fought for more than just to protect our land and our people. They fought for our ideas: for freedom, liberty, democracy, equality, and justice. It is because of these heroes that we are free today.

Every time we give in to cynicism about our Republic and our ability to create positive change, we fail to honor the memory of those brave men and women. Every time we turn to apathy or ignore it in others, we have not lived up to our heritage. Every time we turn a blind eye to injustice, we have failed to cherish what was defended at such great cost so many times.

This Memorial Day weekend, please remember to use your words to honor those who have fallen and those veterans who are still with us. Take a moment to thank a veteran, an active duty service member, or their families. Even more importantly, let’s all commit to do a better job to honor them with our deeds and be more active, involved citizens going forward.

In Solidarity,

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

May 7, 2015

AFSCME Local 1796 (Humboldt County) is proud to support the fight against cancer. In this photo, Carlene Blomker of AFSCME Local 1796 (pictured on right) presents a $250 donation check from AFSCME Local 1796 to Relay for Life. Amy Nostrom accepted the check on behalf of Relay for Life.

Photo courtesy of the Humboldt Independent.

April 27, 2015

All across America, there are countless public employees that work every day to help keep us safe. Among them is Elizabeth Cleveland, an emergency communications operator with Pottawattamie County and a member of AFSCME Local 2364. Elizabeth works the overnight shift answering 911 calls.

Being an emergency communications operator requires an ability to stay calm and multitask. On one call, an operator might have to collect information from a caller, give the caller medical advice, and dispatch emergency medical, police, and/or fire services all at once. It also requires a strong grasp of local geography: “give me a hundred block and I can tell you where that is,” remarked Cleveland.

By the early morning hours of October 16, 2014, Elizabeth was only about a month past the completion of her extensive training with Pottawattamie County. She received an emergency call that began with the caller saying that her father was not breathing. Even though it was her first ever CPR call, Elizabeth walked the victim’s daughter and wife through the steps of administering CPR.

Elizabeth described the call by saying “emotion just went to the side; I had to focus on the decisions I had to make to help the person.”

After nine minutes on the phone, emergency services arrived and rushed the patient to the hospital. The patient lived and went home from the hospital after a few days.

Recently, Elizabeth was recognized with a Lifesaving Award for her work on that night last October. While Elizabeth said she was honored by the award, she noted that “it wasn’t just me; the victim’s daughter and mother were incredible. The whole communications team did a great job that night. Also, the deputy and fire department personnel who responded had an excellent response time, which made a huge difference in saving the person’s life.”

She said that the support from her AFSCME brothers and sisters in AFSCME Local 2364 had been “overwhelming” and added that “we always have each other’s back.”

April 22, 2015

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

At every biennial convention of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, we do a special presentation to honor those AFSCME members who we have lost.

Our Union owes a debt of gratitude to the many AFSCME members who came before us. They helped organize this union. They negotiated contracts that still affect today’s contracts. They knocked countless doors and made countless phone calls. They attended countless meetings, rallies, and conventions.

We are currently collecting names, photos, and information about the AFSCME members and retired AFSCME members that we have lost over the past two years. If you know of someone who should be included in our tribute, please send their name, their local, their years of birth and death, and a photo of them to Brian Jennings, our Communications Specialist. You can reach Brian by e-mail at

Thank you in advance for your help with this important project.

In Solidarity,


Danny Homan, President
AFSCME Iowa Council 61

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 >>>

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Phone and Fax: 515-246-1517 or (800)-372-6054 or 515-244-6467 (fax)

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