Claire Kung (Brainstorm Media)

What does it mean to find a sense of self in work? The new film "Working Man" explores this question through a group of laid off factory workers as they fight for the reopening of their fictional factory -- the last of its kind in the small Midwestern city where they live.

Katarina Sostaric / IPR file

Democratic U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer said she’s disappointed that Gov. Kim Reynolds has not issued a “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” order, despite promising to do so three weeks ago.

“In my district in particular, we make the country’s food. It is our meat processing. It is General Mills where we make cereal. It is so much a big part of that, I knew we had to do everything we could to keep those essential workers safe. I’ve been disappointed at the lack of urgency here from the state,” Finkenauer said.

Iowa Labor Collection / State Historical Society of Iowa Library-Iowa City

This program originally aired on Septmeber 5, 2019.

Since the late 1970s, the Iowa Labor History Oral Project has been collecting interviews from the working class across Iowa. They are collecting history from the ground up, as opposed to leaders or people with power.

Doug Neumann (right), executive director of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, explains the legislative priorities for the Iowa Chamber Alliance which includes the 16 largest chambers of commerce in the state.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

A group representing Iowa’s largest chambers of commerce is urging lawmakers to take steps to grow the state’s workforce and restructure the tax system in the next legislative session.

Iowa has one of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates, and businesses often struggle to find qualified workers. According to Dustin Miller, executive director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, many people stop looking for work because they can’t find, or afford, childcare. He hopes to see a push to focus economic development programs on improving childcare access and quality.

Fast food workers demonstrate for higher pay in Des Moines on May 23, 2019.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

One out of every five working families in Iowa earns too little money to meet their basic needs without public support programs, according to a new analysis of the state’s cost of living by the Iowa Policy Project. That adds up to about 120,000 households failing to earn a livable income, including nearly two-thirds of single-parent families in the state.

Katie Peikes / IPR

Labor union representatives in western Iowa say organized labor has been under attack, but they are continuing to fight for working people.

bernie sanders
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Fifteen Democrats running for president talked up their support for organized labor at an annual meeting of union leaders near Des Moines Wednesday.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, speaks to protestors outside a McDonald's in Des Moines. The Democratic presidential candidate said he supports making $15-per-hour the national minimum wage.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

Workers and union supporters were joined by New York City mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio at a protest in front of a Des Moines McDonald's.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a 2017 law limiting bargaining rights for many state employees. In 4-3 rulings in two separate cases, the court denied arguments made by unions representing teachers and other public workers that the law violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution because it gives more bargaining rights to public safety workers.

President Trump speaks as he visits a new section of the border wall with Mexico in Calexico, California, Friday April 5, 2019.
Jacquelyn Martin / AP

On a recent visit to the southern border in California, President Trump recently said there is no room in the U.S. for more migrants. But many employers in Iowa say that statement doesn’t fit their reality. Instead, they are hoping immigration can provide workers to rebuild a shrinking labor force.

In Iowa, more people are retiring than joining the job market. The state is tied with New Hampshire, Vermont and North Dakota for the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 2.4 percent. For some businesses, finding enough workers is their greatest challenge.

Mike Gronstal testifies against new rules for employee misconduct at a subcommittee hearing.
John Pemble / IPR

Updated Friday, April 5, 2019:

This bill was advanced by the House Commerce Committe, which means it survived the funnel deadline and could come up for debate on the House floor.

Original post from Tuesday, April 2, 2019:

An Iowa Senate bill that specifies cases where workers should be denied unemployment benefits is now advancing in the House, although opponents question whether the changes are necessary.

Currently the Iowa Department of Workforce Development (IWD) decides whether to disqualify a worker from unemployment based on rules it has developed. The bill (SF 561) would codify those rules but also spells out additional forms of misconduct that would disqualify someone from receiving benefits including drinking on the job, stealing or dishonesty.

The high-desert town of Palisade, Colorado, is synonymous with fresh, locally grown peaches. Years ago, thousands of migrant workers would flock here each year in August to harvest the fuzzy fruit. But today, on its narrow dirt roads, Bruce Talbott drives a truck loaded down with 9 tons of wine grapes.

Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers

A union of student workers at Grinnell College voted Friday afternoon not to authorize a strike. Some members of the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers hoped to send a message to school administrators, who oppose the union's recent decision to add all campus workers to its rolls.

Wikiwand /

Organizers of a student union at an Iowa college say they’re still open to negotiating with the school’s administrators. But national regulators may decide the future of student workers at Grinnell College.