A state senator is calling on the governor to explain why so many workers who were dismissed from the Iowa Veterans Home over the past three years are on the state’s “black list” of former state employees who are not to be rehired for state work. Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat from State Center, says the statistics are staggering.
“Governor, 61 Iowa Veterans Home employees were added to the state’s ‘black list’ during your current term. That’s twice as many you were added during your fourth term back in 1995 through 1998,” Sodders says. “Your current administration ‘black listed’ nearly twice as many Iowa Veterans Home workers as Governor Vilsack and Culver did during the 12 years they served in office.”
The home’s former commandant was accused by workers of sexual harassment and intimidation — and he resigned from the post last October. Sodders suggests former Commandant David Worley may have used the “black list” as a way to silence the female employees he was harassing.
“Governor, do you know that 61 Iowa Veterans Home workers blacklisted by your administration, that 50 of the 61 were women?” Sodders asks. “…Governor, it’s time to end the cover-up at the Iowa Veterans Home and other places. I’m asking you to launch an independent effort to determine if the Iowa Veterans Home workers were wrongly fired, then blacklisted under the leadership of David Worley.”
Worley, who denied the allegations of harassment and bullying, was hired by former Democratic Governor Chet Culver in 2010 to lead the Iowa Veterans Home and Republican Terry Branstad kept him in that role when he took over as governor in 2011. Worley exited the job five months ago. A spokesman for Branstad says if Sodders is “really interested in increasing transparency he’d join the governor and Republicans in supporting legislation to give the public the ability to view employee personnel files to see exactly why an individual was terminated.”
A bill that would do that cleared the Republican-led Iowa House, but has not been debated in the Iowa Senate.