Four 2020 candidates speak to Iowa State Education Association

WEST DES MOINES — One of the largest labor unions in Iowa hosted four of the Democratic presidential candidates Saturday.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was first to speak Saturday at the Iowa State Education Association event.

“To have strong public schools, you must have a strong ISEA,” Klobuchar said, to cheers. “And that is exactly what you are.”

Republicans changed Iowa’s collective bargaining law in 2017. Public employee unions like the ISEA now must hold “re-certification” votes on whether a union can keep representing public workers before every round of contract talks.

“ISEA has done a great job on fighting back, but you shouldn’t have to be in that position,” former Vice President Joe Biden said, to chers. “You should have leaders at every level who will fight for you…Look at my record and I promise you I will.”

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg also mentioned unions during his remarks.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re supporting the unions that stand up…for teachers, but also for parents and for children,” Buttigieg said.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has said as president she’d seek passage of a federal law that guarantees public workers can organize and collectively bargain in every state, but she did not bring up the issue during her 15-minutes of speaking time. Warren, like her three competitors, drew cheers from the teachers by saying Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s Education Secretary, would not work in her administration.

“My secretary of education will be someone who has taught in public school,” Warren said, to cheers.

The forum was livestreamed on four union-related Facebook, giving teachers in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada a chance to watch the candidates. Nearly 34,000 teachers are members of the Iowa State Education Association and about 300 ISEA members attended Saturday’s event in West Des Moines.