During a difficult year, Iowans have been asked to do more and they have responded by:
- Pouring into communities to help those hit by storms and flooding
- Working overtime—often in risky situations—at front-line jobs during the pandemic
- Using innovative solutions to continue providing goods and services to their fellow citizens
- Adjusting how and where they work to limit potentially dangerous circumstances
This Labor Day, let’s look around and thank those who are working hard in what often feels like thankless times. A special salute and thank goes out to all who have worked during the pandemic and the derecho to help their neighbors, community and state get through the upheaval—the nurses, teachers, utility workers, factory laborers, first responders and other front-line workers.
Under Republican control of state government since 2017, many Iowa workers have faced hard times. Laws that protected them have been watered down or eliminated, making it harder for them to get ahead. This includes overturning laws that brought Iowans better wages, safer working conditions and a stronger economy, and replacing them with policies and tax benefits that favor big businesses and special interests.
Even before the hardships of 2020, Iowa wages had stagnated; worker benefits had been cut; and income inequality was growing. Many families have a much harder time making ends meet than they did a few years ago.
For example, a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that on average Iowans today must earn $15.46 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the state’s fair market rent rate. That’s more than double Iowa’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The difference is even bigger in several Iowa communities. In Iowa City, for example, workers must earn $19.44 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the local fair market rent rate.
Senate Democrats continue to offer solutions. It’s time to put Iowa workers first by restoring and protecting worker rights, expanding job training and apprenticeship programs, providing paid sick and family medical leave, paying living wages, ensuring equal pay for equal work, and investing in child care.
The best “thank you” we can give hard-working Iowans is real opportunities to get ahead.