Culver, Edwards visit with Maytag workers

Culver, Edwards visit with Maytag workers
 
Date June 13, 2006
Section(s) Local News
   
 
By JESSICA LOWE

NDN Staff Writer

Less than a week after winning the primary as the Democratic nominee for Iowa’s top office, Chet Culver visited Newton alongside the 2004 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards.

Culver and Edwards were greeted by members of UAW 997 and community members at the local union hall, where the pair discussed Culver’s platform and the effect the closing of Maytag will have on workers, their families and the entire Newton community.

“My heart really goes out to each of the displaced workers and their families,” said Culver of the Maytag employees. “My commitment as governor is that I will fight every day for (displaced workers).”

Culver said he would work to help ease the transition process, begin a Displaced Workers Union, create a supplemental health program and restructure the re-education process.

“The biggest challenge is matching skills and interests to jobs available in the area. I’ve heard of too many stories that people go through the education programs, work hard, do well, get a degree of some sort and nothing is available,” Culver said.

Edwards backed Culver’s statements and added that changes need to be made in the United States’ trade policy to help American workers compete in a global economy. He also said there was a need for the federal government to recognize the importance of and to help the working men and women like those at Maytag.

“I would start by saying our government, both the state and federal government, need to recognize the men and women who have worked a job for 20 years, supported their families and are now 45, 50 years old and out of work deserve a little respect,” he told the audience. “The real starting place is a trade policy that recognizes the American worker should have the right to compete.”

Culver also discussed other major issues in his platform, including protecting women’s health care choices, enforcing laws currently “on the books” regarding illegal immigration, raising teacher pay to the national average and making college education attainable to lower and middle class individuals. Along with making a statewide scholarship pool that would be initiated in 2008 if he is elected, Culver said he supports programs like the Newton Promise that will make college accessible to everyone.

“I think any program at state or local level that can help (students) reach their God-given potential is a good one,” he said of the Newton Promise.

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