Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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August 24, 2017

Sullivan’s Salvos     8/29/17

In this edition:

*Labor Day
*Labor Day Picnic
*Labor and Candidates
*One Community. One Bond.
*Did You Know?

*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 $17 per hour because they WANT to. They would be much happier to pay $2 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 $17 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 4, starting at noon at Upper City Park, shelter 2. Meat, veggie options and beverages provided. Please bring a dish to share. Political speeches and a good time guaranteed. Free to all Friends of Labor.

*Labor and Candidates
Candidates for elected office typically court labor unions for support. This makes sense; Labor is a large, well-organized group of regular voters.

So how does one earn the support of Organized Labor? Well, there are many labor-specific issues, such as the right to bargain collectively, Fair Share, prevailing wage, card check, choice of doctor, minimum wage increases, paid sick leave, overtime laws, and more. Strong support for these issues is critical in attracting the support of Organized Labor.

Votes on issues matter; they matter A LOT. But there is a critical, often-overlooked matter when it comes to the support of Organized Labor – how do you treat employees? Do employees feel as though they are treated with dignity and respect? Or are they walking on eggshells, just waiting for the next explosion?

Yes, the way you vote on the issues is important. But it is equally important that you treat workers with the dignity and respect they deserve.

*One Community. One Bond.
The ICCSD is going to the voters on September 12 with a bond referendum. I wholeheartedly support it, and have joined the group urging passage – One Community. One Bond.

Here are my thoughts:

1. Our kids need it. Johnson County keeps growing, and our schools haven't kept up. We add over 300 students per year in the ICCSD; the equivalent of one elementary school. Our kids deserve climate controls. They deserve rooms for art, music, and PE. If nothing changes, 60% of our students will be forced to have class in a temporary classroom. And ADA accommodations are a matter of federal law!

2. Our teachers deserve it. Working conditions vary wildly in the ICCSD. Our teachers are magnificent, and at a minimum deserve to work in safe, comfortable environments. The Iowa City Education Association endorses the bond.

3. Johnson County IS education! Education is at our core. Education is our biggest industry, our biggest employers, and our greatest point of pride. We are defined by education.

4. Buildings schools is great for the local construction industry. The Bond is endorsed by the Iowa City Federation of Labor, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Building Trades, and Carpenter’s Local 1238.

That is why I support the bond. Now allow me to address some of the bond’s critics:

Some say, "You can't trust the Board." All the more reason to pass a bond! Bonding language spells out every project. Passing a bond is the best way to hold them accountable.

There is an old Zen proverb: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” I view the bond vote in much the same way: “Hate the Board? Our kids need the bond. Love the Board? Our kids need the bond.”

For adults to allow their petty political differences to stand in the way of facilities our children need is simply not cool. This is not about the Board, and not about the Administration. Neither group will be here for long; our children will be. While the adults bicker, the children suffer.

Some say, "It is too expensive." The ICCSD has bonds coming off the same time these would go on. It makes the overall tax increase a very manageable $.98/$1000, or $4.25 per month on $100,000 assessed value. Even if the bond passes, the ICCSD will still have the lowest tax rate of any urban district in Iowa – lower than our neighboring districts.

Some complain because the proposed bond would be the largest in state history. So? The 2003 Yes for Kids campaign, which among other things built North Central Junior High, Tate High, and Van Allen Elementary, was the largest in state history when it was passed.

Will the bond perfectly anticipate every future need? Probably not. But critics of the plan have no viable ideas. The current plan took seven years to get this far. If we vote no, we are telling our ten year olds they will never see any facilities improvements during their academic careers. Putting everything on hold in search of perfection would be a clear case of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

Finally, please consider this: With all the negativity in Washington and Des Moines, where they can do whatever they want to us - here is an opportunity for us to stand up and show that we support education.

Much more information is available at I hope you will join me in supporting One Community. One Bond.

*DID YOU KNOW?  The ICCSD has passed the largest school bond in state history not once but twice previously: In 1917, voters approved Longfellow, Mann, and Sabin schools. In 2003, voters approved North Central Junior High, Van Allen Elementary, Tate High School, and money to acquire future sites.

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.

These messages come solely from Rod Sullivan, and neither represents the viewpoints of the whole Board of Supervisors nor those of groups or individuals otherwise mentioned.

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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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