Iowa Federation of Labor launches voter push

Here’s the Radio Iowa story.  Ken Sagar, president of the Iowa Federation of Labor, stopped by the Radio Iowa office this morning for an interview.  

“I think the malaise, if there is any, is not from overreaching,” Sagar said during the Radio Iowa interview. “People had great hopes and expectations and an opportunity escaped us to do a new New Deal which I think fundamentally would have rebuilt the 20th century infrastructure and started to establish a 21st century infrastructure, but we’ve got, regrettably, one party that is more interested in assuring the failure of the other party than assuring the success of the American people.”

Sagar says there are about 100,000 Iowans who are affiliated with the unions that are part of the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO.  If you add in teachers, it’s 130,000.  That does NOT include the unions which are part of the “Change to Win” coalition.  

If you consider union “households” in Iowa, that number is probably 240,000.  That’s the target audience for the “education campaign” in which the labor movement is now engaged.

“Everybody’s pretty much focused on the jobs issue,” Sagar said.  “It’s a scary time.”

According to Sagar, voter turn-out among unions and union households is higher during periods of economic uncertainty and turmoil. 

What about the Grassley versus Conlin race? 

“We are focused on a number of elections up and down the ballot,” Sagar said. “Obviously, we have a concern about the sitting senator who has served longer than the majority of Iowans have been alive.”

And Culver versus Branstad? 

“The first time I met Governor Branstad was in ’97…to lay out our goals, resolutions, legislative proposals — all that stuff and we handed him the stack of papers and he took it and glibly said, ‘Is there anything in here I haven’t vetoed yet?'” Sagar said. “That’s kind of cold.”

Sagar expressed confidence in the unions’ ability to turn-out voters.

“The message is resonating,” Sagar said. “…We want to make sure we get as many of our members to vote as possible…We have targeted races, obviously, scattered all across the state where we’re working to elect some folks…We make an effort to education our members, get them registered, get them to the polls.  I mean, it’s a pretty simple process. A lot of work involved — shoe leather and all that kind of stuff — but all you’ve got to do is make sure they understand the issues.”   

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About O.Kay Henderson

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


  1. Great interview Ken