Recently our union joined forces with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) to send a message to Wall Street: “Clean up the financial mess you made. Pay your fair share of taxes. And stop blaming working people!”
We held a press conference to outline some of the issues and tell our stories.
Then we marched to the Wells Fargo branch in Iowa City to have the bank employees deliver a letter to the CEO with our demands. (Click here to see all the great pictures from our protest.)
We then followed that up with a visit to Congressman Dave Loebsack’s office to make sure he continues to take the lead on our issues.
All of us know how important it is that we, as union members and the general public, understand that people like us -- nurses and teachers and custodians -- didn’t cause the budget crisis in this country. Rather, it was the corporations like General Electric and Wells Fargo that do not pay their fair share in taxes.
Wells Fargo, for example, pays a fraction of its federal tax obligation by exploiting loopholes in corporate tax law. While the federal corporate tax rate is supposedly 35 per cent, Wells Fargo paid no federal taxes, and even received a $4 billion rebate in 2009. This is despite reporting $18 billion in pre-tax income. In 2010, Wells Fargo only paid 7.5 per cent on $19 billion in reported income. THIS IS NOT RIGHT!
When companies don’t pay their taxes, we all suffer. Schools deteriorate, roads go unrepaired, and we’re asked to sacrifice.
Remember: We DO NOT have a spending problem in this state and in this country. NO! We have a revenue problem.
Wall Street needs to pay to correct that. NOT US!
EVEN WHEN THE GOING IS TOUGH, WE WORK HARD FOR GOOD CONTRACTS
In the last few months, many of our public sector chapters settled their contracts with management. Given Iowa’s financial situation (see the article above for why we’re in this mess) our members did okay.
- Dubuque Custodians bargained a 2.64 percent package. Wages went up 40 cents per hour across the board.
- Employees in the Washington School District settled for a 1.65% package that included 5-cent-an-hour raise and improvements to the paraprofessionals’ matrix.
- Central Clinton Custodians negotiated at 15-cent-per-hour across-the-board raise.
- Linn Mar employees will receive a 21-cent-per-hour increase on a 3% package.
- Members in Bettendorf’s mixed chapter improved their contract so that they now have bereavement for the death of a friend, a personal day for part-time staff, and unpaid leave up to 12 weeks for care of relative. In addition, they won a 28-cent-an-hour wage increase with no increase to their insurance payments.
- Bettendorf Secretaries and Teachers’ Aides also negotiated better CBA language and a 27-cent across-the-board raise
- The Pleasant Valley chapter agreed to take a $1600 bonus in June, prorated for part-time employees and a 31-cent-an-hour pay hike while insurance stays same.
- Clinton Custodians bargained for a 2.56% package, which includes a 22-cent-an-hour across-the-board increase with step movement.
- Bettendorf Health Care Center employees agreed to an across-the-board wage increase of 2.8%.
Meanwhile, your union sisters and brothers at HACAP and Finley are gearing up to bargain new contracts.
WE MUST “FIGHT FOR A FAIR ECONOMY NOW!”
Our Union recognizes these are extraordinary times, and that such times call for extraordinary measures.
So we are joining forces with other unions and an array of groups nationwide (and here in Iowa) to start a grassroots movement that will reclaim our democracy for regular people and not just those with the deepest pockets.
The movement, something we’re calling the “Fight for a Fair Economy,” is going to take time and effort to build. The time to start is now.
That’s why we are focusing our attention on putting a stop to the unfounded attacks on public sector workers. In Iowa we have a very thin margin protecting our right to collectively bargain. Our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin lost their right.
Now is not the time to let someone else do the work. We need to take our futures into our own hands.
In addition to stopping the attack on hard-working union members, we are exposing the Wall Street banks, multinational corporations, and the super rich as the people responsible for our financial meltdown and persistent unemployment. We must put a stop to their takeover of our democracy and make sure our country works for everyone – not just the well-connected.
As time goes by, you will be hearing more about this movement.
Please be ready to help when the call comes. This is going to take all of us to fix this mess.