Since the Labor Center at the University of Iowa was created by the Iowa Legislature in 1951, it has helped people learn about their rights at work, labor history, safety in the workplace, discrimination and wage theft, and so much more. Last year the Center had about 2500 attendees at their classes both on and off campus.

There is one more thing the Labor Center does: it saves lives. As Iowa State Legislative Board Chairman for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen from 2004-2014, I used the Labor Center often to educate BLET members. In 2011 we held our first classes on rail safety, and have held safety classes almost every year since then. We've learned about behavior based safety, hazard identification, and fatigue. We have used what we learned in our labor-management safety meetings.

Because of that training, I believe we prevented major derailments, keeping not only our engineers, conductors, maintenance and way personnel, and other rail employees safe, but also protecting anyone living close to a railroad.

On July 10, UI President, Bruce Harreld announced his intentions to close the Labor Center. I will be In Iowa City on August 7 to talk to the Dean of the Law School, Kevin Washburn, to ask him to intervene. If you want to support the Labor Center, call President Harreld at 319-339-3549 and Dean Washburn at 319-384-4658 and ask them to reverse their ill-advised decision.

Jeff Kurtz, Fort Madison