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Labor Day Parade Goes on After ‘Brutal’ Year for Iowa’s Labor Unions

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  So far, 2017 may not have seemed like a great year for public workers in the state of Iowa. 

Mark Cooper of the South Central Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, described it as "contentious and brutal." 

Public workers have watched as the Republican-controlled Statehouse took away most of their collective bargaining rights. 

“Clearly this has been a very bad year for workers in general, and labor unions particular in this state,” said Ken Sagar of the Iowa Federation of Labor. 

So if there is ever a time for them to be appreciated, this would be it; and that's what happened on Monday at the annual Labor Day parade. Thousands of Iowans lined the streets to thank these public workers for what they do.

“America was built on labor, and it will always be sustained by labor,” said Dwayne Bettis, a retired union worker.

The crowd was filled hundreds of union workers and their families. Union reps and politicians shook hands and met with these families, and both addressed the uncertainty about the future and how daunting it can seem. The main message from today was simple: 2017 was bad, but 2018 will be better. 

“I think there's a lot to be optimistic about," said Cooper. "I think when people overreach like this current legislature has done, that they will pay the price for that.” 

Cooper knows the only way it improves for them is to attack the polling places come November. So for now, they plan to rally and try educating each member on the powers of a ballot.

“Some of them might have voted wrong, if it’s in the best interest of the blue collar working family. We need everybody’s help to learn that lesson and spread it out so people vote a little better next time,” said Scott Miles of Local Labor Union 177.