Are Unions Making A Comeback In Iowa?

Iowa Starbucks Workers Want a Nice Hot Cup of Union Power

by Dave Leshtz
 See the full article published in The Nation

A line of 25 people, mostly college students, snaked from the counter to the front door at the Starbucks in downtown Iowa City, Iowa, on April 21. A dozen “mobile orders” of lattes and cappuccinos sat waiting near the tip jar, which on this day was stuffed with bills.

Jen Sherer, president of the Iowa City Federation of Labor, cheerfully offered “Starbucks Workers United” stickers to customers. “Kirk Ferentz was here,” she said with a grin. Ferentz, head coach of the University of Iowa’s Hawkeyes football team, is due to receive $7,000,000 in compensation this year, making him the 13th-highest-paid coach in the country, according to USA Today. Starbucks workers at the store told me he picks up a coffee to go each morning—without leaving a tip; Sherer said that she’d offered Ferentz a sticker, which he accepted but declined to put on.

Starbucks is not the only workplace with reinvigorated union activity in Iowa City. The venerable Englert Theatre, refurbished and turned into a live performance venue after over 100 years as a movie theater, is one of the oldest businesses in town. Last November, its employees voted unanimously to join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 690.

The past year and a half has seen several successful strikes in southeast Iowa, including one by UAW workers in Davenport and one by Bakery Confectionery Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers in Cedar Rapids. One of the toughest union battles in the area is currently being fought by United Electrical Workers Local 896, also known as Campaign to Organize Graduate Students (COGS), representing about 2,000 teaching and research assistants at the University of Iowa.

Dave LeshtzTwitter  Dave Leshtz is the editor of The Prairie Progressive and a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 716.

Click here to read the entire article

This entry was posted in Blog for Iowa and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.