Add your name to this letter to Dean Kevin Washburn

Dean Kevin Washburn 
University of Iowa College of Law

August 7, 2018

Dear Dean Washburn,

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is true, but it does not make prevention easy. It is not easy to resist short-term gain for long-term benefit.

The Labor Center at the University of Iowa, which is the state’s central hub for education and resources regarding rights and safety in the workplace, was established in 1951. In these almost 70 years, the University has occasionally been tempted to close the center when budgets get tight. Thankfully, previous administrators consistently sided with the long-term benefit of the Labor Center, over the short-term gain of clearing a few hundred thousand from the budget.

As leaders, they did what was hard, rather than what was easy, and the state has been better for it. The University is again faced with the challenge to do what is hard, rather than what is easy.

The University recently announced the planned closure of multiple centers, including the Labor Center, which is housed in the College of Law. The Labor Center is a credit to the College of Law and every attempt should be made to hold on to it.  

Why this is important to Iowans?
Workplace injury costs Iowa taxpayers and businesses millions in paid insurance benefits, and more in lost productivity. Workplace harassment and discrimination costs Iowa taxpayers and businesses millions in paid verdicts and settlements, and exponentially more in lost productivity. Wage theft and payroll abuses deny hardworking Iowans the income they rightly earned, and the state budget its proper share of income taxes. Noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) costs Iowa taxpayers and businesses millions in paid fines, verdicts, and settlements.

The Labor Center at the University of Iowa College of Law is the central hub for training our state’s workplace leaders and law students in how to prevent workplace injury, workplace harassment and discrimination, payroll abuses, and noncompliance with the ADA. The state should look for opportunities to expand the reach of the Labor Center. The savings of some $550,000 in the state’s University budget by closing the Labor Center will cost public and private workplaces many millions in the long run, and it will reduce quality of life for Iowa workers.

The Labor Center is one of the few institutions in the state that helps prevent injuries and abuses suffered by Iowa workers. Without educated and empowered citizens, legal rights and safety standards are just words on a page. Our state motto is not an empty gesture. It’s worth fighting for and protecting.

Why this is important to Iowa lawyers? 
The Labor Center at the University of Iowa College of Law is a trusted resource to lawyers and law students practicing in the areas of workers’ compensation, labor, and employment law. Much more importantly, the Labor Center is a necessary resource to our clients in each arena. The Labor Center trains more than 2,500 workplace leaders each year in how to prevent injuries and abuses that lead to costly legal problems, and educates these first responders in how to assert their legal rights when necessary. While many groups provide similar resources to lawyers, no group can fill the void that will exists in the training and education of workers (our clients) if the College of Law moves forward with the closure of its Labor Center.

As practicing Iowa lawyers, we ask the University of Iowa College of Law to reverse the decision to close the Labor Center, and immediately recommit its funding. 


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