Amy Klobuchar advocates for labor rights in Iowa City stop

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar spoke at a gathering of women union members from across the Midwest, saying she will strengthen collective bargaining rights and support an increased minimum wage.


Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-M.N., addresses members during the 2019 Midwest School for Woman Workers at The Hilton Garden Inn in Iowa City on Thursday July 25, 2019.

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., focused on strengthening unions and increasing access to trade apprenticeships in a panel focused on labor issues in Iowa City on July 25.

Klobuchar, a presidential-nomination candidate, spoke at the Women’s Leaders Rising Forum, made up of a group of women leaders from labor unions across the Midwest.

Klobuchar spoke on a panel with three activists: Royceann Porter of the Teamsters 238 union, a member of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, Amy Wiser, the national communications director of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, and Kris Snavely of the Iowa State Teachers Association.

Porter asked what Klobuchar would do as president to stand up for temporary workers.

“The first thing you need to do is make it easy for people to organize,” Klobuchar said. “That is one thing as union organizers, you’re going to have to explain to Iowa and to the rest of the country — this president has not kept his promise to those workers where he said he was going to stand up for them.”

Klobuchar also said she supports an increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Wiser asked Klobuchar about apprenticeship programs, noting that her union is concerned about weakening regulations on the quality of construction apprenticeships.

In June, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed industry-run apprenticeship programs as opposed to programs accredited by the federal government. Wiser said her union, the Boilermakers, is concerned that the proposal would decrease the quality of apprenticeship programs.

“I’m concerned about what the [Trump] administration has put out there — I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Klobuchar said. “I do think we need to make sure we expand the apprenticeship programs and the ones we have now. We want to make sure that works for everyone.”

Snavely, who teaches second grade in Sioux City, expressed concerns about the weakened power of her teachers’ union as well as a lack of funding in her School District.

Klobuchar responded that she will replace the current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. She also criticized the level of funding for public education in Iowa.

“I’ve been dismayed by what’s happening in Iowa given what your Republican governors have done,” Klobuchar said. “Your state has always prided itself in funding education. While I can’t change your governor in this election, I can in the next.”

While the Iowa Legislature passed a 2 percent funding increase for K-12 education in January, many Democrats said the increase was not adequate.

Preya Samsundar, a Republic National Committee official, issued a statement about Klobuchar’s participation in the event, contending that President Trump has empowered women through increasing employment opportunities.

Samsundar included a statistic from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that reports 56 percent of new jobs created under the Trump administration have gone to women. As of January, the unemployment rate for women had dropped to 3.6 percent.

Klobuchar concluded by noting her ability to win in Midwestern states, saying she can win in areas that voted for Trump in 2016.

Recent polls show Klobuchar polling between 1 and 4 percent among likely voters in Iowa.

Decorah Gordon, a union member from Milwaukee, said she was impressed by Klobuchar’s candid answers on labor issues. Gordon is particularly concerned about candidates’ stances on workers’and women’s rights.

“I love everything she said. It was actually honest, the things that we needed,” Gordon said. “We need somebody who’s not afraid to say, ‘These are the things we’re going to do, and we’re going to talk about it.’ It’s a conversation that we need to have,”

RELATED: Kirsten Gillibrand in Iowa City: ‘I will be the nominee’

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spoke at the event as well, with a similar focus on women’s and labor issues.


Facebook Comments