Background

Photo of workers in a class provided by the UI Labor Center

The University of Iowa is trying to close the UI Labor Center.

University of Iowa administrators have announced their intent to close the UI Labor Center — the only unit in the entire state university system that specializes in research and education for and about Iowa workers.

The decision was made without proper input.

The decision to close the Center was made with NO prior discussion with the Labor Center, UI faculty, workers, students, or community partners who rely on the Center’s education and research.

The Labor Center belongs to Iowans!

The Center was established in 1951 and has been built by the contributions and support of generations of Iowans for nearly 70 years

The Center educates thousands of Iowa workers each year.

The Center provides direct education for more than 2,500 Iowa workers annually across the state. It impacts many thousands more as these continuing education students bring knowledge of health and safety laws, antidiscrimination rights, and leadership skills back to their workplaces and communities to grow Iowa’s economy. 

The Center is critical to student success, faculty research, and teaching.

Faculty who study and teach on labor and employment law, immigration, public policy, Iowa history, occupational health and safety, and the economy rely on the Center as a resource and hub for coordinating interdisciplinary research on a wide range of work-related issues. Center staff teach undergraduate classes, mentor students, supervise experiential student learning, research projects, and internships, and support student job placement in labor and employment-related fields. These functions are not duplicated anywhere else in the Regents system.

The Center is a model public-private partnership.

The work of the Center is sustained by funds from program fees, competitive grants, and a small but essential University funding commitment. 

Workers at press conference supporting UI Labor Center. Sign: "Hands OFF $$$$ for Worker Education"

Closing the Center is a money grab.

Now the University is trying to hijack the only university funds across the state that are committed to serving Iowa’s workers.

It's not about state funding cuts.

The Labor Center’s annual General Education Fund (GEF) allocation from the UI has already been cut multiple times and is now less than one-thousandth of one percent (0.00075) of the UI’s total GEF budget. The Center’s entire 2018 GEF allocation is less than the UI President’s annual salary.

The costs of destroying the Center are immeasurable.

Iowans are at risk of losing access to critical education and leadership development programs. Because worker education has a proven track record of decreasing problems like workplace fatalities, harassment, discrimination, and wage payment violations, Iowans can expect these and other serious problems to increase.

The UI is at risk of losing:

  • Public trust, if it destroys a commitment generations of state leaders and UI administrators have made to Iowa workers, and attempts to repurpose the Labor Center’s small funding allocation.
  • Consideration for federal grants in areas of Labor Center expertise, such as the $950,000 in competitive federal funding the Center has secured since 2002, and tens of thousands of dollars annually raised by the Labor Center from program fees and sponsorships.
  • Crown jewels of the University, such as the Iowa Labor History Oral History Project, the Center’s entire repertoire of high-quality educational manuals and curricula, and continually in-demand resources created by initiatives such as the Iowa Worker Rights Project and the Child Labor Public Education Project.

Discussions are ongoing — join the discussion!

The Labor Center reports that they are in dialogue with University of Iowa administrators about the Center’s future. Join the discussion! 

TAKE ACTION