My hometeam Gazette fronts news this morning that it could be labor’s big year in the Legislature.
Democrats control the whole shootin’ works and legislative leaders have been meeting with Gov. Chet Culver to get on the same page. Union leaders think this may be their best realistic shot at getting wish list items like “fair share” fees from non-union workers and expanded collective bargaining rights. Business groups are using words like “radical” to express their horror.
At the same time, some unions representing state employees are asking for some very unrealistic raises, according to The Des Moines Register. The Judicial Public Employees and Maintenance Professionals want 10 percent in each of the next two years. Most other workers are asking for 5 percent. I understand this is an opening bargaining salvo, but with all the bad budget and economic news, most Iowans will be left shaking their heads.
That’s especially true in my hometown of Belmond, where Eaton Corporation has announced 78 layoffs, or 20 percent of the plant’s workforce, according to this morning’s Mason City Globe-Gazette. This comes after more than 150 jobs were trimmed at the engine components plant in 2006. The plant currently employs 360.
Speaking of troubled small town industries, what’s happening with Agriprocessesors in Postville? AP Reports that there are a dozen or so secret bidders for the bankrupt kosher meatpacking plant, and each have agreed to keep it open and in Postville. Could be very good news for a town that needs some.
The Republican Party of Iowa could use some good news, but first it’s had to go through a long, contentious squabble over who will be its next state chairman. Lee newspapers’ Charlotte Eby has a good overviewof the state central committee vote, which takes place on Saturday. Matt Strawn of Ankeny, co-owner of the Iowa Barnstormers arena football team, and former State Rep. Danny Carroll of Grinnell look like frontrunners, although these sort of things can take surprising turns.
And finally, The Sioux City Journal carries a funny, interesting piece this morning about all the mayhem that occurs when the WWE professional wrestling league rolls into town. Couches, locker rooms and hotels are not safe.