Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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August 28, 2015

Sullivan’s Salvos     9/1/15

In this edition:

*First Minimum Wage Vote
*Labor Day
*Labor Day Picnic
*School Board Elections
*Congratulations Jan!
*Did You Know?

*First Minimum Wage Vote
         The Board of Supervisors passed the first reading of the new Minimum Wage Ordinance this past Thursday.

         While the vote was 5-0, I was troubled by the comments of a couple of Supervisors:

         “We should phase it in over 3 years.” It is already phased in over a year and a half. To ask people in dire poverty to wait three years is simply unacceptable.

         “The State should do this.” I agree. But the have not, and they will not. Sometimes you just have to lead.

“We should work with the cities.” Any city could have done this any time in the past eight years. But the have not, and they will not. Sometimes you just have to lead.

         Raising the minimum wage is not some tremendous act of courage. The fact that so many people believe it is simply demonstrates how little concern we as a society actually have for our poorest sisters and brothers. That is what REALLY needs to change!

It was great to have this occur just before the Labor Day holiday! What better message could we send?

*Labor Day
Happy Labor Day next Monday! I love Labor Day. Every Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day we set aside time to recall the folks whose service has given us our freedom. I have long felt we need to treat Labor Day in a similar fashion.

Please take a moment this Labor Day to remember the people who fought (and often died) to give us child labor laws, 40 hour weeks, weekends, overtime, vacations, the minimum wage, sick leave, parental leave, OSHA, employment nondiscrimination, pensions, Social Security, health insurance, and so much more.

Do not be fooled! Benevolent corporations did not GIVE these benefits to workers! They were earned by workers who sacrificed! It is a shame that so many average Joes have chosen to support our corporate masters versus supporting those whose efforts really benefit the masses.

Unions continue to provide the best protections working people can have. I feel as though I have accomplished some good things as a member of the Board of Supervisors. One of the accomplishments of which I am most proud is starting an employee appreciation lunch every year the week of Labor Day. Johnson County employees deserve much more, but this is one extra opportunity to say thank you.

Trust me – the average person has nothing to fear from unions. We all benefit when folks have safe and healthy workplaces. We all benefit when workers get adequate rest. We all benefit when workers receive good training. We all benefit when folks earn a living wage and have health insurance. Unions help improve the quality of life for all of us.

One example of a way in which unions benefit everyone: much is made of the automobile industry expanding into the southern US. While these are not union plants, workers still have good wages and benefits. Some see this as an indictment of unions. It is precisely the opposite.

Do not think for a minute that these companies pay $22 per hour because they WANT to. They would be much happier to pay $4 per hour. And, when China’s workforce improves in quality to the point that they can do automotive work, the companies will move there.

Understand – large corporations exist for one reason, and that is to earn a profit. If the laws allowed slavery, some companies would use it. Because it is cheaper.

So why do they pay $22 in the southern US? Because of the threat of the United Auto Workers (UAW). If the wages or benefits ever sink too low, UAW could unionize those workers. The car companies don’t want that, so they pay the lowest possible acceptable wage.

See? The UAW does not represent the workers at those plants. But they have driven up the wages and benefits for the workers there all the same.

I am proud to be a member of Local 716 of the American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the Iowa City Federation of Labor. Happy Labor Day!

*Labor Day Picnic
The Iowa City Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, will host its annual Labor Day picnic on Monday, September 7, starting at noon at Upper City Park, shelter 3. Burgers, brats, veggie options and beverages provided. Please bring a dish to share. Political speeches and a good time guaranteed. Free to all Friends of Labor.

*School Board Elections
         School Districts around the County are holding elections on Tuesday, September 8, including the ICCSD, which has a remarkable 5 out of 7 seats open!

         You do not need to wait until September 8 to cast your ballot, however. Early voting is available every day at the Auditor’s Office, and satellite-voting opportunities are available. (See the Auditor’s webpage for locations and times.)

         There will likely never be an opportunity for a voter in the ICCSD to make a bigger difference! Get out and VOTE!

         We once again have a bumper crop of apples! Anyone who is interested can email me and arrange a time to come over and pick your own.

*Congratulations Jan!
         Last week I thanked outgoing MH/DS Director Kris Artley for her outstanding service to Johnson County. This week, I get to congratulate the “new” person in charge, Jan Shaw.

         I put “new” in parenthesis because Jan is anything but new to the MH/DS Department in Johnson County. Jan has been with Johnson County for over 25 years. She has worked her way up from Case Manager, to Quality Assurance, to Interim Director, to spending the past 8 years as Assistant Director.

         Things are going to continue to change in our MH/DS system. As I wrote a couple weeks ago, Medicaid Managed Care scares the heck out of me! We are not necessarily entering a golden age for MH/DS. But I know Jan Shaw is the right person to lead us forward in these challenging times. Congratulations, Jan!

*DID YOU KNOW?  The first observance of Labor Day is believed to have been a parade on September 5, 1882, in New York City, probably organized by Peter J. McGuire, a Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary. By 1893, more than half the states were observing a "Labor Day" on one day or another, and a bill to establish a federal holiday was passed by Congress in 1894. President Grover Cleveland signed the bill soon afterward, designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

"Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents.

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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