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Iowa

Farm And Construction Equipment Workers Strike In Iowa And Wisconsin

Eleven hundred workers who manufacture agricultural and construction equipment for CNH Industrial in Burlington, Iowa, and Racine, Wisconsin, have been on strike since May 2. At the core of the strike is the company’s three-tier pay system. Workers hired before 1996 make $6 to $8 more per hour than those hired after 2004; those hired between 1996 and 2004 earn somewhere in between. Workers want to see at least the bottom tier abolished. Workers are also fired up that their counterparts at CNH’s non-union plants make an estimated $5.50 more per hour than the average union worker, according to UAW Local 807 President Nick Guernsey. “We're wanting parity between us and non-union plants,” Guernsey told the Hawk Eye.

Grinnell College Becomes First Fully Unionized Undergraduate School

Grinnell, Iowa - On April 26, student workers at Iowa’s Grinnell College elected to create the first wall-to-wall undergraduate student union in the country, expanding their Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers (UGSDW) to include all hourly student workers. On March 4, UGSDW and Grinnell College signed “a first-of-its-kind neutrality and election agreement,” which, members of the union explained in Labor Notes, “legally binds the College to respect the results of an election.” On the night of the 26th — delayed from April 21, the original ballot-count date, after a toxic gas leak at the local National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) offices — the UGSDW voted to expand, with 327 voting for the expansion and 6 voting against.

Why More Students Are Walking Out At Iowa Schools

Johnston, Iowa - In light of recent education bills at the Iowa Legislature, whether it’s promoting vouchers for private schools or restricting what teachers are allowed to mention in class, many Iowa students are getting fed up. And they’re standing up. Friday afternoon in Johnston, a group of close to 100 students walked out of class and stood on school grounds to talk about those bills, explain how they’re impacting Iowa students and teachers, and encourage their peers to register to vote and to elect different legislators. “I think the biggest thing now is putting people in positions of power that actually will do the work and will care and represent the student voices that are speaking out about this,” said Waverly Zhao, a junior at Johnston High School who helped lead the walkout.

The Bee Project

Iowa - One might see children playing around the installation, like the boy in this photograph, admiring the bee made from a Rubik’s cube – he thinks it’s such an inventive idea! He, his younger sister, and their cousin made their bees from plastic bottles and tape and added them to the installation a few weeks earlier. Now they are often checking on their own and other people’s creations: there is an enormous bee made from two biking helmets, there is a tiny one from the nail polish bottle, there is a bee crocheted from yellow and black yarn, there is one made from old plastic toy and used kitchen mixing bowl! Furthermore, it’s a great place to hang out with friends! And there is more to come. Starting this April, two more public works by Russian American multimedia artist Elena Smyrniotis will be installed in Iowa.

Judge Upholds Ag-Gag Charge Brought Against Animal Rights Activist

An Iowa judge upheld one of the state’s “ag-gag” laws in a case brought against an animal rights activist, hours before dismissing all charges. In Iowa, a person may be criminalized for “food operation trespass” if they enter or remain on the property of a factory farm “without the consent of a person who has real or apparent authority to allow the person to enter or remain on the property.” Matt Johnson, an investigator with the grassroots animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), was charged with violating the ag-gag law after he exposed the extermination of pigs by Iowa Select Farms. He argued the law is “actually intended to punish individuals for expressing viewpoints disfavored by the Iowa legislature” and reminded the court that a similar Iowa ag-gag law was previously ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.

Given Recent Innovations, Maybe We Don’t Need To Eat Or Use Animals At All

I’m currently facing a felony prosecution in Wright County after exposing Iowa Select Farms killing thousands of pigs via “ventilation shutdown," which involves shutting down a building’s vents as heat and steam are pumped in. The practice was so egregious that employees at the company sought the support of Direct Action Everywhere, the animal rights group I organize with, in exposing and ultimately stopping it. As recently reported by the Intercept, a high-level executive at the company was fired for raising his concerns, and FBI agents were called in to try to flip a whistleblower into becoming an informant against us. It’s all part of a long-term pattern: government support for an abusive and environmentally destructive industry, even to the point of intimidating and silencing its critics.

Iowa Farm Bankruptcies Continue To Rise, Despite Aid

There were 27 farm bankruptcies in Iowa in 2019 — more than double the 13 bankruptcies in 2018, the American Farm Bureau Federation reported. This was despite the $1.58 billion the federal government paid Iowa farmers in Market Facilitation Program payments to ease losses because of the trade dispute with China. Later this month, we’ll know how many Iowa farms went bankrupt in 2020, but Iowa State University economics professor and crop markets specialist Chad Hart said to expect another increase. “The government has provided a lot of short-term funding to help farmers get through the year,” Hart said, referring to market facilitation and coronavirus food assistance programs, which funneled two rounds of aid to farmers in 2020.

Iowa Is What Happens When Government Does Nothing

Iowa City, IA — Nick Klein knew the man wasn’t going to make it through the night. So the 31-year-old nurse at the University of Iowa ICU put on his gown, his gloves, his mask, and his face shield. He went into the patient’s room, held a phone to his ear, and tried hard not to cry while he listened to the man’s loved ones take turns saying goodbye. When they were finished, Klein put on some music, a muted melody like you might hear in an elevator. He pulled up a chair and took the man’s hand. For two hours that summer night, there were no sounds but soft piano and the gentle beep beep beep of the monitors.

Demonstrators Deliver 800 ‘Failing Report Cards’ To Iowa Governor

As confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to increase in Iowa, activists and community members sent Gov. Kim Reynolds nearly a thousand "failing report cards" during a Friday afternoon demonstration to speak out against the governor's response to the pandemic. Over a dozen demonstrators gathered in front of the Governor's Terrace Hill mansion for a planned action by community organization Iowa CCI demanding a statewide mask mandate and more leadership from the governor.

Iowa Nurses Win Fair Contract At MercyOne Hospital

The union nurses of MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center ratified a new contract Jan. 29. After rejecting the hospital’s original offer and threatening to strike, they won a fair contract and scored a victory for nurse and patient safety. The nurses, represented by Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 222, fought during seven months of intense negotiations for a contract with competitive wages and benefits, improved workplace safety and safe nurse-to-patient ratios. 

Iowa Crops Look Like Food — But No One’s Eating

Iowa is unrecognizable from centuries ago, when Europeans took the land for themselves. What were prairie and wetlands are now neatly partitioned grids of intensely cultivated land: the model for the farm as factory. I was in Iowa last week shooting for the PBS NewsHour Weekend “Future of Food” series. There are some good things going on — and you’ll see them in the segment, which will run later this summer or fall — but I left feeling depressed as hell.

Why I’m On Climate Strike In Iowa

IOWA CITY — The flash flood alarm signaled again last night. This is the 9th week of my climate strike in Iowa City. That’s nine weeks of not going to school on Friday from 11:50-4:05. I have been striking for real climate action at the Iowa City Public School Building because I wanted to start at the place where I spend eight hours a day of my life. All of my life I have heard and talked about climate change. When I was a little kid I was always hearing about coal mining, the reason coal mining is so bad, and how the coal companies strip-mined my family’s 200-year-old farm.

Resistance In The Heartland: Fighting ICE In Small-Town Iowa And Nebraska

“You have to leave the country now that Trump is president.” That’s what Latinx children heard from some white schoolmates in the small southeastern Iowa town of Mount Pleasant in the days after Donald Trump was elected. Eighteen months later, the threat of deportation seemed much more real than a schoolyard taunt. On May 9, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detained 32 men—22 from Guatemala and the rest from Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras—at Mount Pleasant’s Midwest Precast Concrete (MPC) plant. A concrete mixing plant that started up more than a decade ago, MPC owes its building and success largely to migrant Latino labor, including that of some highly valued supervisors who were swept up.

Landowners Oppose Oil Pipeline Before Iowa Supreme Court

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A group of Iowa landowners and an environmental group asked the Iowa Supreme Court Wednesday to declare a crude oil pipeline permit illegal under the Iowa Constitution, a decision that could force the pipeline in operation for more than a year to be turned off. The attorney for a group of landowners who opposed construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline through their property told the court since the pipeline provides no direct use to Iowans the decision of the Iowa Utilities Board to grant a permit should be reversed. “The pipeline crosses the state with no oil wells, no refineries, this pipeline has no onramps and no offramps,” said Bill Hannigan. “Iowans have no direct use.”

Crude Oil Leaks Into Floodwaters After Train Derails In Iowa

DOON, Iowa (AP) — A freight train derailed in northwest Iowa on Friday, leaking crude oil from into flooded fields flanking the tracks and raising concerns about the possible contamination of residential water supplies downstream, officials said. BNSF railroad spokesman Andy Williams said no one was injured when 33 oil tanker cars from Alberta, Canada, derailed around 4:30 a.m. Friday just south of Doon in Lyon County. Some of the tankers were compromised, causing the oil to leak into floodwaters and eventually into the rain-swollen Little Rock River, but officials didn’t have an exact number of tankers that leaked oil by late Friday afternoon, Williams said. BNSF had hazardous materials and environmental experts on the scene and had begun cleanup within hours of the derailment, Williams said.
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