Quad-City voices, including labor leaders, have joined the Save Our Labor Center initiative, which will continue with community forums throughout the state.
The University of Iowa Labor Center is housed in the university’s College of Law, in Iowa City, said Jennifer Sherer, director of the center.
In early July, the College of Law informed labor center staff that in one year’s time, the center’s university funding would be eliminated and its entire staff would be terminated, while the University of Iowa funding that traditionally has been allocated to the center would remain in the College of Law budget, she said.
On Wednesday, members of the Quad-City community spoke at a 90-minute hearing, where participants called on the university to reverse its course on the decision.
"I think what we heard from people (Wednesday night) was commitment," Sherer said.
The center's mission is to provide educational programs and research support to Iowa’s working people and their organizations. Since 1951, the center has acted as a bridge between the University and Iowa’s labor community, Sherer said.
Each year, thousands of workers, including many from the Quad-City area, enroll in the center’s continuing-education courses in practical industrial relations, labor and employment law, contract negotiation and administration, health and safety, labor history, organizational development and leadership, economics and public policy, she said.
During Wednesday's hearing, a panel of elected officials and local leaders took comments from community members at United Steelworkers Local 105 in Bettendorf. “It was a packed house,” said Dino Leone of Taylor Ridge, president of the Quad-City Federation of Labor.
“It is shameful the University of Iowa would even consider closing down the labor center at a time when education for working families is more needed than ever,” Leone said. “I’ve got to believe this is another political attack on working families.”
“Hundreds upon hundreds of leaders have been trained through the center, probably affecting thousands upon thousands,” he continued. “We know that the tiny amount of money that goes to the labor center can be found in the university’s multi-billion dollar budget. We know that university leaders have the power to reverse this decision.“
For more information and to see updates on hearing schedules and outcomes, go to www.saveourlaborcenter.com