The Ottumwa Courier

September 5, 2012

Guest editorial: Who should speak at Labor Day rally?

‘Anti-union’ voting record prohibited speaker


OTTUMWA — State Sen. Mark Chelgren just doesn’t get it. He was not refused the right to speak at our Labor Day Celebration because of any personal problem between him and me. He was, however, denied the privilege of speaking because of his anti-union legislative record.

UFCW Local 230 President Joe Rush had indeed said that non-Democrats who support labor could speak. Unfortunately, Sen. Chelgren does not support organized labor. Take a look at just some of his legislative record:

• Voted against tax credits for solar and wind energy;

• Compared Iowa’s voluntary public preschool system to Nazi indoctrination;

• Voted against funding to create at least nine new full-time jobs at the Ottumwa Community Corrections center; the multi-million dollar new building sits empty to this day;

• Introduced a bill to require drug testing for any woman who receives child support from the non-custodial parent;

• Introduced a bill to repeal statewide licensing requirements for electricians and plumbers;

• Introduced a bill to prohibit all private-sector labor unions in Iowa from contributing to political candidates;

• Introduced a bill to prohibit labor unions from knowingly collecting any dues from any person not legally in the United States and providing financial penalties;

• Introduced a bill to completely eliminate public employee collective bargaining;

• Voted against a bill allowing an additional 13 weeks of unemployment eligibility during times of high unemployment.

With a record like that, the leadership of the Southern Iowa Labor Council, AFL-CIO, would be derelict in our duties to let him speak before our members.

After all, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, “We paid for the microphone.” I have offered to meet with Sen. Chelgren and let him know what changes he would need to make in his record in order to receive our endorsement.

Steve Siegel is president of the Southern Iowa Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and a Wapello County supervisor.