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Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JULY 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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Out-of-state workers controversy is multifaceted

The complicated debate surrounding the future Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building is ugly on so many levels. First, most of the jobs for constructing this site are being reserved for out-of-state workers. This action does not correspond well with the mainstream culture in Iowa, which calls for more Iowa jobs to encourage local growth.

On the other hand, according to Executive Order No. 69, which was signed by Gov. Terry Branstad, the state Board of Regents must select the most economical option for projects regardless of whether local workers will be employed or not. The issue is complicated further because approximately $10 million from I-JOBS, designed by the Iowa Legislature in 2009 to create jobs in Iowa, will be directed out-of-state.

I propose that we step aside from the blame game. Pointing fingers solely at Walsh Construction for recruiting out-of-state workers may seem like the obvious way to avoid this kind of fiasco from occurring again. However, I believe that this is only part of the solution. In this case, it is evident that there was a pervasive misunderstanding.

To start with, Walsh Construction should have understood the culture in Iowa and should have acted appropriately by recruiting Iowans for most worker spots. However, in accordance with Branstad's order, the regents selected it as the contractor because of its competitive bid; it is possible that the company could not fund such a low-budget project by hiring Iowa workers.

Hopefully, what we learn from this situation will allow us to evade this kind of dispute in future projects. The people of Iowa have spoken, and what we want is better communication and a solid compromise.

Zahid Manzar
UI sophomore


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