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Iowa – No More Corporate Agenda!

Put People First!
Put People First! | Demonstrators, including members of AFSCME Council 61, march on the governor’s mansion in July to protest Gov. Terry Branstad’s anti-worker agenda, which favors corporations and the wealthy over working people. (Photo by Dana Berry)

“Put People First!” That was the demand made to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) in July by approximately 500 activists — including members of AFSCME Council 61. His corporate agenda threatens to undermine programs essential to the well-being of the middle class.

Marching under a scorching sun, the protestors carried a letter to the governor’s mansion. Signed by 400 people, the document urged him to support “an economy that works for everybody, and public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics and polluters.”

Protestors cited Branstad’s anti-worker record, including his support for a budget bill that would eliminate services, increase the age at which public employees become eligible for full retirement benefits, and impose other Draconian measures, all while trying to give corporations hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks.

Deb Shepherd, an advisor in Iowa’s Workforce Development office and secretary-treasurer of AFSCME Local 3450 (Council 61), was among those who addressed the rally. Concerned that the governor was trying to close 36 Workforce Development satellite offices and replace them with self-service computer terminals, she noted that lawmakers from both parties agreed to fund the program “and keep us doing our jobs.”

Shepherd said the “Branstad administration has an ‘on your own’ philosophy for governing that does not reflect our values. We’re all in this together, and we can do much better!”

“I’m proud that this union can come together with so many other people from different walks of life,” says Danny Homan, president of Council 61. “We all must stand together or our communities fall apart. Governor Branstad, we’re here to let you know that won’t happen on our watch!”

Homan, who is also an AFSCME International vice president, filed suit in August — along with four state legislative leaders — against the governor. The suit claims Branstad violated the state constitution when he vetoed a measure that would have blocked closure of the Workforce Development offices.

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