Teamsters endorse Culver

The Teamsters have endorsed Chet Culver’s bid for reelection.  There are about 12,000 active Teamsters and another 6000 retired Teamsters in Iowa.  Read the story and listen to the Teamsters news conference here. Culver wore a t-shirt with the familiar Teamster’s logo on the back for the event.

A Teamsters leader addressed the tention between Culver and unions after Culver vetoed a bill that would have expanded the subjects upon which unions may bargain during contract talks.

“We’re not going to get everything that we desire, but it’s certainly more favorable for working-class people in this state with Governor Culver in charge,” said Gary Dunham, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 238 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Here’s the Culver campaign news release:

Iowa Teamsters Endorse Governor Culver

Des Moines – Flanked by members of the Iowa Teamsters, Governor Chet Culver received the organization’s endorsement this morning.

“I couldn’t be prouder to receive this endorsement,” Governor Culver said. “I have worked hard over the last four years to help working Iowans get ahead. Whether it was raising the minimum wage, putting new protections in the workplace, or fighting to protect the benefits for those affected by this recession, the Teamsters have been right there with me.”

The Teamsters’ endorsement is the second major endorsement Governor Culver has received in as many days. Yesterday, the Governor received the support of the National Rifle Association for his commitment to protecting Iowans’ Second Amendment rights.  These two organizations combined represent nearly 90,000 Iowans. This stands in stark contrast to the two endorsements Terry Branstad received yesterday by organizations representing only hundreds of Iowans.

Today’s endorsement comes after meeting with the union yesterday, where the Governor reaffirmed his commitment to improving the lives of working men and women in the state. Both Governor Culver and his opponent, Terry Branstad, met with the union. Governor Culver received the endorsement over Branstad because of his work on behalf of workers, which includes:

1)  Fighting to protect unemployment benefits

During these difficult economic times, Governor Culver has fought hard to extend unemployment benefits for those out of work. In fact, the Governor traveled to Washington, D.C. earlier this year to testify before Congress about the need to keep these benefits in place while the economy recovers. However, Terry Branstad has said that he opposes extending these benefits that help support Iowa families.

2)  Keeping pensions safe

During his meeting with the Teamsters, Governor Culver stated that he would do everything in his power to protect pension funds. This stands in contrast to Terry Branstad’s record as governor. In 1991, Branstad proposed loaning funds from IPERS to cover state cash flow shortages, and used funds from the Police and Judicial Pension Funds to balance the budget.

3) Enacting the Peace Officers Bill of Rights

During his first year in office, Governor Culver signed the Peace Officers Bill of Rights into law. This legislation, which the Teamsters helped enact, provides additional protections to peace officers from frivolous lawsuits and false claims.

4) Directly addressing the problems of worker misclassification

In 2008, Governor Culver created the Independent Contractor Reform Task Force. This led directly to passage of legislation creating the Worker Misclassification Unit in 2009. During its first five and a half months of operation, the Worker Misclassification Unit found 116 employers who had misclassified 887 workers, depriving those workers of important worker protections. The total unreported wages of these workers totaled $15,520,738 and the employers were found to owe $555,647 in unemployment taxes and $156,248 in penalties and interest on those taxes.

“These endorsements underscore the broad-based support for the work we have done over the last four years,” Culver said. “The choice is clear this fall. Do we want the same failed policies that we had for 16 years under Terry Branstad, or do we want to keep moving forward? Iowans know we can’t go backward, and I look forward to continuing to stand up for our workers, our rights, and our state as a whole.”

Here’s the response from Branstad communications director Tim Albrecht:

Terry Branstad’s successful policies led to the creation of 300,000 new jobs in Iowa. Terry Branstad has a plan to create 200,000 new jobs and that, above all else, is what Iowans need at this critical time.  Terry Branstad supports policies that will offer employment to those in need. The choice is clear: Iowans can support Gov. Culver’s failed jobs program that has left 55,000 more Iowans unemployed, or Terry Branstad’s successful job creation efforts as a proven, effective manager.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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