Here’s how Iowa unions, worker groups are celebrating Labor Day

By: - September 2, 2022 6:16 pm

HealthPartners health care workers in 2020 announcing a weeklong strike in St. Paul, Minn. (Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer)

Iowa’s workforce is stabilizing as Labor Day celebrations kick off across the state.

While worker shortages remain a problem for Iowa’s economy, unemployment rates are down nationwide. The U.S. Department of Labor reported unemployment rose from just 3.5% at 3.7% in August, and that 786,000 people entered the workforce. Iowa’s unemployment rate was lower in July, at 2.5%, according to Iowa Workforce Development data.

The improving economic news is finally a break from the years of downturns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and assuages some fears of a potential recession because of recent increases in gas prices and costs of living. The news also comes ahead of Labor Day celebrations: Worker support groups and unions are holding events this weekend and on the official holiday, Monday, Sept. 5, across Iowa.

There have been some notable unionization efforts nationwide this year. Following the overturn of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood workers in Iowa and other Midwestern states voted to form a union. Amazon warehouse employees voted to unionize in Staten Island, New York earlier this year, and a federal judge rejected the company’s objections. New York City is also suing Starbucks in a high-profile case for allegedly firing an employee who organized a union.

Democratic candidates, including U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne and Senate candidate Michael Franken, will appear at labor group celebrations this weekend. Progress Iowa, a progressive political organization, is calling for the state to declare September Labor Union Appreciation Month ahead of the holiday.

“Unions have fought for workers’ rights since the beginning,” Progress Iowa director Matt Sinovic said in a statement. “It’s time we fight for them. Iowa workers deserve leaders who will support them when they are in need.”

Here’s what Iowa unions and labor groups have planned for the holiday and long weekend, according to the Iowa Federation of Labor:

Saturday, Sept. 3

Council Bluffs WILF Picnic

  • Where: Lake Manawa State Park, Shelter 6, 1100 S Shore Dr, Council Bluffs, Iowa
  • When: 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Details: Democratic Senate candidate Michael Franken and 4th Congressional District candidate Ryan Melton will speak at the event.

South Central Iowa Federation of Labor Parade

  • Where: Kicks off at the Iowa State Capitol, 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, and ends at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, 3000 E. Grand Ave, Des Moines.
  • When: Parade starts at 11 a.m.
  • Details: Democrat Michael Franken and U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne will marshal the parade. Learn more here.

John L. Lewis Labor Festival

  • Where: John L. Lewis Memorial Museum of Mining and Labor, 102 Division Street, Lucas, Iowa
  • When: Events scheduled from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
  • Details: Learn more here.

Sunday, Sept. 4

Western Iowa Labor Federation Picnic

Clinton Labor Congress GRALF Picnic

  • Where: Eagle Point Park Lodge, 4101 N. 3rd St., Clinton, Iowa
  • When: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 5

Dubuque Federation of Labor GRALF Parade and Picnic

  • Where: Swiss Valley Park, Walnut Pavilion, 13069 Swiss Valley Road, Dubuque, Iowa
  • When: Parade starts at 9:30 a.m., picnic available at park until 2 p.m.
  • Details: Learn more here.

Iowa City Federation of Labor HALC Picnic

Des Moines/Henry County Labor Alliance GRALF Picnic

North Iowa Nine Assembly HALC Picnic

  • Where: Georgia Hanford Park, 2215 S Jersey Ave, Mason City, Iowa
  • When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Details: Learn more here.

Black Hawk Union Council HALC Picnic

Sioux City WILF Picnic

  • Where: Riverside Park, 1301 Riverside Blvd, Sioux City, Iowa
  • When: Starts at 11 a.m.

Hawkeye Area Labor Council Picnic

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. Robin has experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald, in addition to working on multimedia projects, newsletters and visualizations. They were a political reporter for the Des Moines Register covering the Iowa caucuses leading up to the 2020 presidential election, assisting with the Register's Iowa Poll, and reporting on Iowa's 4th District elections.

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