IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver is urging Gov. Kim Reynolds to back off policies that he says will force employees to be in unsafe workplaces that have had coronavirus outbreaks.
Culver says in a letter to Reynolds that workers shouldn’t have to risk illness or death or face the loss of their unemployment benefits. He warned that her policy choices “will affect Iowans’ quality of life for generations to come.”
Culver, a Democrat who served from 2007 to 2011, said the Republican governor’s policies have created an appearance “that the state’s most powerful business owners have exerted undue influence.” He cited her push to keep open meatpacking plants that have been sources of community-wide outbreaks.
Culver said a policy that would deny unemployment to those who are afraid of catching the virus puts budget concerns over people’s well-being.
“Any such ill-conceived scheme that deprives them of choice and forces those hard-working, yet vulnerable, employees to report to unsafe workplace environments, while the positive incidences of COVID-19 infection are on the rise, is not merely penny-wise and pound foolish — it is just plain wrong,” Culver wrote.
He urged Reynolds “in the strongest possible terms to reconsider and realign” her approach to give workers more protections.