Union members rally for worker rights & against education cuts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Union members rally for worker rights & against education cuts

IOWA CITY (KWWL) -- Dozens of people gathered for a rally in front of the Old Capitol Building in Iowa City Wednesday, many were members of the UE Local 896 - COGS, others were supporting worker rights.

COGS members ratified their bargaining contract last week. Even as the ink was drying, they were already concerned about potential changes coming from Des Moines.

"Our bargaining package does include health insurance, so some of the bills that are going through the state legislature could impact us as well," said union president Kari Thompson.

Their goal Wednesday was to get out the word: worker rights impact everyone -- union member or not.

"Collective bargaining isn't just about how much we get paid or what sorts of other monetary benefits we have. We also bargain over workplace rights. And these are things that end up affecting all employees," said Thompson.

But the rally was about more than collective bargaining. As educators, the men and women are also worried about cuts to Iowa schools and pre-schools.

"Education is important because education is the foundation of our democracy," said Thompson. "The state appropriations are under attack here in Iowa."

"We brought our kids out today to show them what democracy looks like. To show them they have a stake in their community and in their country," noted parent of two, Ryan Downing.

With all the words being said at the rally, one sign that seemed to sum it all up. The word "Solidarity" written above a map of Iowa and Wisconsin. It's a message they hope will resonate, even with the youngest members of the rally.

"It's really exciting to bring in a new generation of people who really care about taking part in democracy and speaking up for themselves," said Thompson.

Many of the folks at the rally are planning to head to Des Moines on Monday. The house is holding a hearing on a bargaining bill -- one Democrats are calling a "Wisconsin-style attack" on public workers.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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