For decades, Clinton County’s Labor Congress – a coalition of union organizations that represent local working people at the state and national level – has held a picnic at Eagle Point Park on Labor Day to celebrate Iowa’s private and public sector workers and to advocate on behalf of laws and policies intended to protect Iowa workers and improve the lives of all Iowans.
This year’s picnic had to be cancelled due to concerns of community spread but in light of the incredible challenges that working Iowans have faced over the past several months, it’s crucial that all of us – including the members of Iowa’s General Assembly who make the laws and enact the polices that impact working Iowans on a daily basis – recognize and honor and stand up for Iowa’s workers.
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many Iowans – both private and public sector employees – have been required to work long hours under dangerous conditions, risking their health and the health of their families to ensure that their communities have access to basic necessities – food, transportation, education, health care. Law enforcement officers, first responders, factory workers, health care providers, school employees, child care workers, bus drivers, grocery store employees, and so many, many more show up and do their job, every single day – and unlike too many of our state and federal political leaders, they follow CDC mask and social distancing guidelines while doing so, in order to protect themselves but mostly to protect others.
Following the recent derecho storms, private and public sector employees from all over Iowa and all over the country worked together, often on a volunteer basis, to provide emergency assistance to Iowans left without power and in some cases without homes. And we can’t forget Iowa’s small business owners and employees who work in arguably “non-essential” industries like hospitality, travel, beauty, recreation, and retail, which are essential to Clinton County’s quality of life, and thus to our ongoing existence as a viable community.
Iowa’s workers and small businesses have been through hell during the past several months, and in the upcoming legislative session, Iowa’s General Assembly must set aside party politics and prioritize legislation and policies that help protect the health and safety of Iowa’s workers, while also ensuring that our small businesses are able to remain solvent. Failure is not an option, and I have no doubt that Iowa will rise to the occasion and emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever before.