New Iowa Fed head

The Iowa Federation of Labor has a new leader.  It’s Ken Sagar (pronounced SAY-ger).  We chatted by phone for a few minutes this morning and I wrote a story

At the conclusion of the interview, I asked this question:  “I don’t think I’ve ever interviewed a union leader who’s quite so soft-spoken.” 

Sagar said this in reply: “Many years ago when I was at my local union I realized that I can’t yell louder than 300 people in a room.  I found that if I talked quietly, everybody has to be quiet or they can’t hear the details of the contract and so calm and cool and collected, so to speak, has served me fairly well.  It does help in some of those tense situations if there is somebody who is just a little softer-spoken.”

Here is the news release, dated February 5, 2008, announcing Sagar’s election:

Iowa AFL-CIO Announces New President

Des Moines, Iowa— On February 1, 2008, the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO Executive Council unanimously elected Ken D. Sagar as Iowa AFL-CIO President at the Iowa AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting.

Ken Sagar replaces Mark L. Smith, who served the Iowa labor movement for 28 1/2 years as Secretary-Treasurer and as President.  Smith announced his retirement effective February 1, 2008.

Sagar hails from IBEW Local 204 out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he served as Business Manager for almost 13 years.  He was elected as Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer in 1997 and has served in that capacity for nearly 11 years.

In addition to his duties at the Federation, Sagar is currently Treasurer for the Iowa Democratic Party.   He also serves on the Iowa Workforce Development Board, the John L. Lewis Museum Board and the Labor Advisory Committee at the University of Iowa Labor Center.

“I commend President Smith for his dedicated service to the cause of social and economic justice in Iowa,” Sagar said.  “I look forward to leading the Iowa labor movement and am optimistic with regard to the current legislative session.  My goals include organizing the unorganized, organizing community action committees and expanding labor’s influence in an endeavor to build on efforts begun by my predecessors.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.