Labor & Employment and Retirement Security Exhibit Audio Description

Audio Transcription

Above this exhibit is a sign with white letters on a blue background that reads Labor and Employment.

This exhibit follow the curve in the wall. It is 4 feet tall and extends about 25 feet to the right.

Working from right to left, the displays are arranged in a number of vertical sections over a dark blue background.

The first section starts with a photo blended into the blue background. The photo shows Senator Harkin wearing a hard hat, using a power drill on a piece of plywood.

Below is a title that reads Fighting for workers and the middle class.

The text below reads

Throughout his 40 years in Washington, Senator Harkin fought to strengthen the middle lass by championing labor and employment rights for all. He worked to ensure fair pay, protect overtime pay and provide paid sick leave. He also believes strongly in the right to organize and form unions and sought to provide access to education, training and employment services to help workers learn the skills they need. Internationally he was a loud and clear voice in the campaign to end the worst forms of child labor. In 2014, he received the US Department of Labor’s Iqbal Masih Award for his efforts.

Below is a black and white photo of the Senator wearing a hardhat, work gloves and jeans, looking at a section of railroad track with two other men.

The caption reads Congressman Harkin meets with workers on the Rock Island Railroad in 1975.

Moving left, the next section starts with a color photo of Senator Harkin speaking at a podium displaying a sign that reads restoring balance – protecting America’s families.

The title reads Take Action and has 3 blue text boxes below it.

The text in the first box reads

The Harkin Challenge

At the 2017 Harkin Summit, Senator Harkin issued a challenge to double the labor force participation rate of people with disabilities in the next ten years. Learn more about understanding disability and inclusive workplace practices in the Iowa Summit on Disability Employment Business Toolkit.

The next box reads

Research before you buy

Purchase clothes, shoes, household items and food products that are made without child labor. Additionally, you can look for union labels and buy union-made products. If you aren’t sure about a company’s practices, ask questions. Write a letter or send an email to ask how a company sources their products.

The third box reads

Communicate with elected officials

Write to your senators or representatives about issures related to labor and employment. Whether you are interested in pay equity, the minimum wage or paid family leave, reach out to your elected officials to ask them to take action on these issues.

There is a QR code below the final box with text that reads scan here.

Moving left, the next vertical section displays a quote from an address Senator Harkin gave at the Iowa Federation of Labor 45th Annual Convention – August 16, 2001.

The quote reads

We know, and we will always remember, the the rights American workers enjoy today weren’t just given to us. They didn’t fall from the sky. They came the old-fashioned way. Americans earned them.

Moving left is a large timeline titled Harkin’s Accomplishments.

The timeline is layed out with text in large white circles connected by green lines.

The first circle at the top is a color photo of Senator Harkin speaking at an outdoor podium in front of the United States capitol surrounded by women holding signs that say Got Equal Pay?

The caption reads

Senator Harkin championed legislation to end gender-based discrimination in the workplace and raise the minimum wage. He authored the Fair Pay Act and introduced it in every Congress since 1996. He also championed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Play Act, enacted in 2009 to make it easier for Americans to challenge unequal pay. He supported raising the minimum wage every year that he served in Congress, authoring and championing the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, which would increase the federal minimum wage and index it to inflation.

The text in the first circle reads 1975-2014 Raising the Minimum Wage

The next circle: 1975-2014 Fighting for Collective Bargaining Rights

The next circle: 1998-2014 Workforce Investment Act and Workfoce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

Text in the next circle reads 2001-2010 – Harkin-Engel Protocol.

Beneath is a color photo in a circle showing Senator Harkin surrounded by small children in West Africa.

The caption reads

Senator Harkin worked with Congressman Eliot Engel on eliminating the worst forms of child labor in the production of cocoa and the chocolate industry in West Africe. The Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed and witnessed in 2001 by the executives of eight global chocolate companies. In 2010, Senator Harkin and Congressman Engel signed a Declaration of Joint Action to set a goal of reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa industry in West Africa by 70 percent by 2020.

The photo is connected to a blue box with text.

The title is The Institute today.

The text reads

The Harkin Institute works to advance Senator Harkin’s legacy through research and programming. What are we working on now?

The Child Care Cliff Effect

Research fellow, Shelley Horak, and the Harkin Institute student research team analyzed child care regulations in each state and conducted an in-depth review of Iowa’s Child Car Assistance Program. They produced an Iowa case study, a state-by-state comparative policy review and national policy recommendations.

The State of Unions and Organizing

The Harkin Institute provides opportunities for people to interact with policymakers, including a lecture and panel discussion on the State of Unions and Organizing. Heidi Sheerholtz, an economist and president of the Economic Policy Institute, headlined the event.

Sussman Lecture with Kailash Satyarthi

In 2016, Novel loureate Kailash Satyarti presented the annual Sussman Lecture. Satyarthi is a global leader in the movement to end child labor. Senator Harkin nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize every year since 2005 before he was finally successful in 2014.

One color photo in this section shows a woman and a man in safety glasses conferring over a document in a factory. The caption reads the harkin institute works to advance Senator Harkin’s legacy within the realm of labor and employment by studying the child care cliff effect and other labor issures. It also provides a space to have a dialogue around unions and organizing.

The second is a color photo of Kailash Satyarthi. The caption reads Kailash
Satyarthi speaks about his work to liberate children in India from child labor, slavery and trafficking. Satyarthi led the global march against child labor and founded the Rugmark Foundation – now known as Goodweave International – to certify that rugs were made without child labor.

A second timeline comprised of text in circles runs along the lower part of this section. This one moves from right to left.

The first circle contains the title Retirement Security.

The next circle: late 1990’s to 2005. Strengthening Social Security and Expanding Benefits.

The next circle: 2006 – protecting Private pensions

The next circle: 2009 – 2010 – Strengthening Medicare.

The next: 2010 – Regulations for 401k Education

Next: 2013 – Cooperative and Small Employer Charity Pension Flexibility Act

Next: 2014 – Universal, Secure and Adaptable Retirement Fund

In the center of this section is a photo blended into the background of Senator Harkin speaking at a podium with a sign that reads An Economy that works for everyone.

The caption reads

Senator Harkin worked to uphold the rights of American workers to organize unions and bargain collectively. He defeated multiple floor amendments that would have weakened collective bargaining rights. In 2013, he also led the Senate in confirming the first full National Labor Relatios Board after more than a decade of inactivity.

Moving left is an overlay with a blue background and white text.

The title reads The Institute today

The text reads

The Harkin Institute works to advance Senator Harkin’s legacy through research and programming. What are we working on now?

Closing the Retirement Savings Gap.

The Harkin Institute policy directors, research fellow and students conduct research and draft briefs on various public policy issues, including this piece on the role of state retirement savings programs as a means to address low access and participation rates in employer-provided retirement savings plans.

Financial Literacy Requirements.

Research is currently underway to study state financial literacy requirements for high school graduation, with an emphasis on understanding the curriculum changes first. Many states introduced legislation mandating financial literacy courses for high school graduation, particularly after the Great Recession. The education evaluation literature has not been able to capture the effect of these mandates on financial challenges yet and we are reviewing some of the challenges associated with that task.

Two photos are featured with this section.

The first is a color photo of an older couple reviewing papers.

The caption reads

Half of US employees do not participate in a retirement savings program in their workplace. The Harkin Institute is examining the role of state retirement savings programs in addressing the problem.

The second color photo shows Senator Harkin on the floor smiling with a small girl.

The caption reads Senator Harkin gives a high five to a student in 2013. The same year, he authored the Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013, which provides a framework for the future where all children graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the workplace, including financial literacy or personal finance education.

Above the exhibit on the far left is a sign that reads Retirement Security.

In the display, large black text reads Strengthening the System.



Smaller text below reads

Another component of Senator Harkin’s work to rebuild the middle class centered on ensuring retirement security for all Americans. To do so, he fought to strengthen private retirement savings, protect public retirement plans and safeguard Social Security and Medicare.

Below the text is a photo of Senator Harkin with the caption

Senator Harkin speaks at a press conference on protecting Social Security in 2011. He helped lead the fight against the privatization of Social Security multiple times during his time in office. He also sponsored legislation to strengthen and expand the program.

Another photo shows Senator Harkin delivering his farewell to the Senate address on December 12, 2014.

A quote form that address reads

Lack of a reliable retirement is one of the most underreported, unexamined crises on our national horizon and it is a big part of our growing inequality.

The final element of the exhibit displays 3 blue text boxes with the title Take Action above them.

The first box reads

Personal Finance

When looking for a job, ask about the retirement savings offered by the employer. Make sure that you are participating in your employer’s retirement plan if you are eligible and maximizing your employer-mathed contribution. For those to young to have a retirement account, be sure to set up a savings account with a bank or credit union and develop regular savings habits.

The second box:

State Retirement Savings Program

Contact your state representative and seanator to advocate for a state retirement savings program that would benefit small businesses who cannot afford a traditional employer retirement savings plan. Fourteen states have a state retirement savings program as of March 2022.

The final box;

Social Security Reform

Contact your representative and senators to advocate for Social Security reform to balance the Trust Fund and enhance benefits for low-earners and those who rely on Social Security as their main source of retirement income. The Trust Fund if projected to be depleted by 2034 and there are multiple viable proposals to balance the fund for the next 50 years.

A sign to the left of the exhibit reads – Archival Display a gift from Patricia Beneke, Laura Waters and Kathleen Waters – in memory of Robert J. Waters.

You can learn more at harkininstitute dot drake dot edu