The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Fighting for the workers

Iowa Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cathy Glasson stands in the UIHC clinic in Coralville on Monday. Glasson is one of seven Democrats running for the Democratic nomination for governor. She spoke about wanting to create a progressive movement behind her campaign. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

2018 gubernatorial candidate Cathy Glasson spoke to The Daily Iowan about Iowa’s need for a higher minimum wage and greater access to unions. Glasson stands for what she calls boldness and progressiveness.

By Madeleine Neal

[email protected]

When Cathy Glasson was growing up in northwestern Iowa, her father was an over-the-road truck driver, and her mother worked at a Sears and Roebuck Catalogue store.

Her parents, who did not earn college degrees, worked to ensure that Glasson and her sister could grow up to make a good living, she said, which played a role in her decision to run for the Democratic nomination for Iowa governor in 2018 and to fight for what she calls a living minimum wage of $15 an hour.

“What would really raise millions of Iowans and raise the standard of living for many Iowans would be to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and do it faster, not slower,” Glasson said. “$15 is the floor — that’s the most basic amount of money that anyone can make to provide a living wage to a family, so $15 is not outrageous, it’s what people in Iowa need.”

Though numerous factors led Glasson to her candidacy, she said, her deciding moment happened during the previous legislative session when former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and the Republican-dominated Legislature made what she called a clear decision to take away union rights from thousands of public workers.

Glasson, who became a union leader at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, helped organize approximately 4,000 health-care professionals and nurses at UIHC.

“Unions are the only thing that have built the middle class in this country by allowing workers to negotiate higher wages, benefits, and working conditions,” she said. “We know it is a fact that when workers spend more money, they spend it in the local economy, and that’s why raising the minimum wage to $15 is so important and why having a union is so important — and those two things together will fuel our local economies, and create jobs, and support small businesses.”

Cathy Glasson, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, addresses protesters outside of a Donald Trump rally in Cedar Rapids on June 21. Glasson is the president of SEIU Local 199, a union chapter representing health-care workers and school-support employees. (The Daily Iowan/Nick Rohlman)

Glasson said her dedication to a livable wage and her focus on facilitating unions in the workplace could set her campaign apart from other Democrats.

“I think our campaign is unique because we’re going to talk to voters who have felt left out and ignored, and they’re hurting,” she said. “They’re the folks working two and three jobs to pay their bills, and so we’re going to make sure that we listen to the worries that they have and talk to them about the core message in our campaign, which is the $15, universal health care, making it easier to have a union.”

RELATED: Glasson stresses everyday people

Glasson’s special assistant for communications, Eleanore Taft, said Glasson’s chance to win the election comes with her bold, progressive message.

“I think Cathy has been very clear on her positions and I think all of the positions will really help out a substantial portion of our population,” Taft said. “But I think her message resonates with working-class people, which are becoming a larger and larger segment of our population, and I think it’s because she’s addressing some of the major concerns that hold people back.”

She said Glasson offers Iowans a clear vision for the state that lifts people up.

“I think she has the ability to inspire a lot of people to take the power they have, and rise up, and fight for their rights,” she said.

Brian Shepherd, Glasson’s campaign manager, said her service to working people will help her win the nomination.

“We need bold, progressive change, and we can’t wait around and do incremental out-measures,” he said. “And too often people who are elected to office are really trying to water things down, and Cathy’s not a career politician, and she really wants to make change in Iowa.”

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