Kelsey Kremer/The Register / USA
Right now, tens of thousands of working people across America are on strike (or close to it). Every day, people from coast to coast have had enough of poor treatment, too little pay, and unsafe conditions.
Although this latest strike wave started months ago, October has seen several notable strikes (including right here in Iowa), leading to #Striketober trending on Twitter. For many of us, this is the largest number of workers on strike in our lifetimes.
In case you missed it, one of the epicenters of this moment is happening in our own backyard. Members of United Auto Workers (UAW) at 14 John Deere plants across Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, and Georgia overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer from the company last week.
While the CEO and other bosses make huge COVID-19 pandemic-era profits, workers are still struggling to get by. When the company refused to increase their offer, union members took matters into their own hands and walked out. It has been a week and the strikes are not likely until workers’ demands are met.
But why should students at the University of Iowa care? Here are just three reasons why we should all pay attention and show our support this #Striketober.
First, many of us are already workers. Whether you’re an RA in the dorms, a graduate teaching assistant in class, or serving food downtown just to make ends meet, many students are accustomed to the workforce.
We are facing the same problems as people who are unionizing and striking across the country. We may be far apart and different from each other, but we share a common cause in wanting dignity in our life and work.
Second, #Striketober shows the importance of organized labor for our future careers. After we go our separate ways from the UI, most of us will have to find a job. #Striketober gives us a chance to realize the power we can have as future workers, too.
Even if you don’t come from a union family (I certainly didn’t), or don’t think your career goals include a union, you might be surprised by where unions are cropping up. Tech workers, journalists, and even game design companies are all starting unions for the first time.
Closer to home, undergraduate workers have started Hawks Union, graduate students have COGS, and service workers in town are organizing with IWW. The message is simple — if you work for a living, you deserve a union.
Finally, this is a historic moment happening right here in Iowa. While most of us are focused on midterms, history is being made in our state. Many of you are probably from towns like Ankeny, Waterloo, and Ottumwa, or from somewhere similar.
Showing your support and visiting the picket line is just one way you can be ambassadors for the university, connect with the larger community off campus, and maybe even support the families of your fellow students. This is sure to be an experience you do not want to miss.
So, what are you waiting for? Find some friends and carpool to a picket line today.
-Caleb Klipowicz, University of Iowa Ph.D. candidate