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CAWLS President Thomas Collombat has written to the University of Iowa asking that they reverse the decision to close the University’s Labor Center. A copy of his letter is below:

Dear Dean Washburn,

Dear President Harreld,

It is with great concern that the Executive Committee of the Canadian Association for Work & Labour Studies (CAWLS) has learned about your intention to permanently shut down the University of Iowa (UI) Labor Center. At a time when globalization and economic turmoil have significant impacts on workers’ jobs and living conditions, the kind of work the UI Labor Center has been doing for almost 70 years is more relevant than ever. Beyond its crucially important teaching and research activities, the unique partnership the Labor Center has been able to develop with workers’ organizations fulfills an essential mandate of universities toward their communities.

Indeed, the Labor Center serves an irreplaceable function, teaching classes for thousands of working adults and scores of enrolled UI students each year, promoting good jobs and a stronger economy, and supporting experiential student learning and interdisciplinary faculty research.

Taking away the small amount of university money that has been committed for decades to research and education on issues that matter most to Iowa workers is, in our opinion, a serious breach of public trust.

Closing the Labor Center would harm workers across the state and beyond, leave gaping holes in UI’s curricular offerings and research capacity, and destroy the joint commitment generations of state and university leaders have made to Iowa workers.

For all these reasons, CAWLS Executive Committee urges you to reverse the decision to close the Labor Center, rescind the furlough notices given to Labor Center employees, and recommit the Labor Center’s existing university funding to Labor Center activities.

You can be sure that the situation of the UI Labor Center will be followed closely from Canada. We sincerely hope that you will hear the numerous voices asking you to reconsider your decision.

Best regards,

Thomas Collombat, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Université du Québec en Outaouais

President, Canadian Association for Work & Labour Studies


You can add your name to the petition to save the University of Iowa Labor Cente here:


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