Management v. Labor

Tonight's edition of "Iowa Press" on Iowa Public Television features John Gilliland of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry and Ken Sager, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor/AFL-CIO.  The show was taped this morning at 10 o'clock.  It airs tonight at 6:30 p.m. (that's an hour earlier than normal, because of IPTV's "Festival" programming).

Both agreed, after an opening question about the state of the economy, that Iowa's economy is in recession. "It is tough," Gilliland said. 

A few moments later, Sager said Iowa is the 41st state in the nation in wages and he said the "prevailing wage" bill that has been much discussed at the statehouse is a way to boost the middle class and "there is no better way to do that than to give unions a voice in the workplace."

Gilliland, directed back to the issue of the economy by the questioner, suggested Iowa's economy is better off than others. "We're not seeing the vast layoffs that you're seeing in some of the other states.  Our state is in a better position to come out of this," Gilliland said.  He later addressed the wage issue (that 41st in the nation statistic): "It's a balance.  The cost of living is a factor."

Specifically referring to the prevailing wage bill, Sager said: "The issue is still alive."  He also argued the bill would help more Iowa contractors land taxpayer-funded projects in Iowa.

Gilliland responded:  "This bill was nothing more than an attempt by the 10 percent of Iowans who belong to a union to force their agenda on the rest of us…This is an attempt to drive out competitive bidding, quite simply."

The discussion then veered to other labor-related issues, including "fair share" which Sager compared to the beef check-off in that whether a livestock producer is a member of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, they pay a fee when they sell a cow, bull or steer and the money is funneled to the association to finance advertising and other efforts to boost consumption of beef (Beef:  it's what's for dinner is the current campaign, I think).

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About O.Kay Henderson

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