Cathy Glasson

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Cathy Glasson

Template:TOCnestleft Cathy Glasson is an Iowa activist. She is married to Matt Glasson.


Cathy Glasson, was born in 1958 in the northwestern farming community of Spencer, Iowa. In 1982 she earned a nursing degree from the University of Iowa, and spent 20 years working in intensive care at the university hospitals.

In the 1990s, the Clinton administration began to push “managed-care” health-care reform, which proposed policies to reduce costs for taxpayers and patients. In practice, Glasson said, the policies damaged the working conditions of nurses.

Concerned for their jobs and the quality of patient care, Glasson and some of her co-workers decided to form a union. The challenge then became convincing their colleagues.

“I put a lot of miles on my car and spent hours talking to my fellow nurses,” Glasson said. “The reception was good, but organizing is difficult. By publicly supporting a union, you’re putting your neck on the line.”

Nurses had reason to be tentative. In Glasson’s telling, the hospital resorted to strategies intended to intimidate organizers.

“They hired an outside security firm to keep people like me from talking to nurses,” Glasson said. “A nurse told me she saw an armed security guard walk into a unit where patients were being cared for, just to make sure there wasn’t any subversive activity going on.”[1]

Gubernatorial run

After months of “exploring” a run for Iowa governor, union leader Cathy Glasson officially entered the race September 2017.

Glasson, a nurse and president of the SEIU Local 199 union that represents health care workers at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and elsewhere, is one of seven Democratic candidates running for the June party primary.

She’s positioning herself as the most progressive candidate in the race, championing a higher minimum wage and state action on universal health coverage, among other policies.

“I’m inspired by the hundreds of working people I’ve listened to across Iowa who are ready to rise up for a $15 minimum wage, expanded union rights, universal health care, clean water and fully-funded public education,” she said in a statement Tuesday. “Iowans who are struggling to make it are demanding a seat at the table in 2018. They’re not going to let the politicians ignore them anymore.”

Glasson, 58, of Coralville, announced that she was exploring a run for governor in May and has been actively campaigning since then, appearing at party events and speaking on stage with the six other Democratic candidates.

As Glasson announced her candidacy in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, her campaign gathered supporters in Iowa City, Sioux City, Des Moines, Waterloo, Davenport, Ames and Burlington to knock doors in a “day of action.”[2]

"Communists and socialists"

On the morning of Labor Day 2017, a crowd gathered outside Mercy Hospital in Des Moines to hear health-care workers speak about their worsening labor conditions. After a number of hospital employees had spoken, Mike Carberry, a Democrat serving as supervisor for Johnson County, took the stage.

“Do we have any good liberals here?” he asked.

Carberry was met with tepid applause.

Then someone shouted: “We’re communists!”

The crowd exploded in cheers.

“Okay! Communists and socialists!” Carberry conceded.

The rally was a joint action between organizers of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the local chapter of Fight for $15, which earlier that morning organized a strike at a local Burger King. But the event of the day was a speech by Cathy Glasson, a recent entrant to the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

“If you work in healthcare in Des Moines, you probably work two jobs,” Glasson told the crowd. “That’s why I’m here with you, to fight for $15 and a union!”[3]

DSA support

Cathy Glasson’s path to the governor’s mansion is far from clear. Her rivals in the primary include business-friendly centrists with close ties to establishment Democrats. But Glasson is the farthest left candidate in recent memory to mount a serious campaign for the state’s highest office.

She is betting on her campaign’s ability to build a coalition of unlikely conspirators: service workers, many of whom are immigrants and people of color; members of manufacturing unions, many of whom are white and some of whom supported Trump; and young members of the ascending Democratic Socialists of America.

Glasson and her staff are full of youthful energy, blending “Iowa Nice” with political rage. Yet their approach is old-school. They conceive of electoral politics as an extension of labor organizing, hoping to use the techniques that once made the Midwest a hotbed of union activism in order to convince voters to support progressive politics.

If proven right, the prairie progressives could augur a path forward for the American left.[4]

Campaign staff

Glasson’s special assistant for communications, Eleanore Taft, said Glasson’s chance to win the election comes with her bold, progressive message.

“I think Cathy has been very clear on her positions and I think all of the positions will really help out a substantial portion of our population,” Taft said. “But I think her message resonates with working-class people, which are becoming a larger and larger segment of our population, and I think it’s because she’s addressing some of the major concerns that hold people back.”

Brian Shepherd, Glasson’s campaign manager, said her service to working people will help her win the nomination.

“We need bold, progressive change, and we can’t wait around and do incremental out-measures,” he said. “And too often people who are elected to office are really trying to water things down, and Cathy’s not a career politician, and she really wants to make change in Iowa.”[5]

Enlisting DSA support


Iowa City Democratic Socialists of America Meeting Minutes – September 30th, 2017.

Misty Rebik of Glasson gubernatorial campaign presented. Union and labor rights will be at forefront of campaign. Core issues in platform including medicare for all, minimum wage raise, restore/expand union rights, water/ag pollution, free k-12 and tuition.
Q and A session with Rebik.[6]

DDS endorsement


Resolution to Endorse Cathy Glasson for Governor.

Resolution Number: 2017.008

Originating Committee: Steering Committee

Author(s): Nicholas Agan, Christine Darr, and Christoffer Lammer-Heindel

Whereas we are committed to pursuing “transformative reforms,” which substantially shift power away from private corporations and capitalists, including by strengthening labor unions, taking steps toward the decommodification of healthcare, holding corporations responsible for their environmental and social harms, and requiring a liveable minimum wage;

Whereas we recognize that the pursuit of such reforms requires the election of legislators and executives to our government, which are committed to bold, progressive change and democratic co-governance;

Whereas Cathy Glasson is committed to using the governorship of the state to ensure universal health coverage for all Iowans;

Whereas she promises to immediately, upon taking office, demand legislation instituting a statewide minimum wage of $15 per hour;

Whereas she promises to hold agriculture corporations, especially hog confinement operations, accountable for water quality and water restoration, and refuses to allow further permits for confinements until X waterways are restored;

Whereas she opposes DAPL and environmentally disastrous efforts to expand fossil fuel extraction and consumption;

Whereas she does not accept corporate campaign donations;

Whereas she is committed to proactively entering into democratic co-governance relationships with grassroots activist organizations;

Whereas we seek to amplify our legislative and electoral goals and build momentum by joining with other organizations and mass movements; and

Whereas Cathy Glasson is endorsed by National Nurses United and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI);

Therefore be it resolved that the Dubuque Democratic Socialists (DDS) enthusiastically endorses Iowa Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Cathy Glasson.

Be it further resolved that DDS encourages all members to financially support Glasson’s campaign to the extent that they are able; to register and caucus in the February 5 Democratic Party precinct caucuses; and to vote for Glasson in the June 5 Democratic Party primary.[7]

DSA supporters

The following Democratic Socialists of America members have supported Cathy Glasson for Governor.

The following Democratic Socialists of America influenced organizations are supporting Cathy Glasson for Governor.

Rebik's "people"

Misty Rebik February 3, 2018 ·


These are my people! I adore and respect people who put action behind their words! Thank you for your relentless commitment to progressive change! — with Kate Revaux, Cathy Glasson, Damien Williams and Justin LeDuc.

Town Hall with Cathy Glasson for Governor


Town Hall with Cathy Glasson for Governor. Hosted by Cathy Glasson for Governor and Young Democratic Socialists at Iowa

Wednesday, January 24 at 5:30 PM - 6:20 PM CST

Samuel L. Becker Communications Building, 25 South Madison Street, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

CCI endorsement


Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement endorsed Cathy Glasson for Governor in September.

HUGE NEWS — Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) Action Fund endorsed Cathy Glasson this morning! With 4000 people now committed to knock doors and make calls, this is BIG!

CCI PAC for Glasson


Hugh Espey, executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has been doing social justice work in Iowa since the 1970s. He pounds the table as he talks about how the Democrats have talked a great game for decades, but done little. “I am sick and tired,” he says, “of being sick and tired of being fucked over by bullshit promises on the campaign trail.”

This election cycle, Espey thinks things will be different. “That right there,” he says, jabbing a finger toward a photograph in a photocopied article on the wall of CCI’s offices. “That right there is a movement candidate.”

The candidate is Cathy Glasson, an intensive care nurse and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local president who’s running for the Democratic nomination for governor.

The GOP’s aggressively antilabor agenda has inspired CCI to set up a PAC and take its first plunge into state-level politics, working on behalf of Glasson. She fits the 43-year-old community organizing group’s vision of movement politics: Her candidacy emerged from her role as president of SEIU Local 199, which represents healthcare and education workers in 20 bargaining units across the state. And she foregrounds issues that her six Democratic opponents shy away from: Big Ag’s role in Iowa’s water pollution problems, for example, and the need for single-payer, universal healthcare.[8]

Grassroots support

In terms of grassroots support, Glasson will find more valuable assistance from members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus.[9]

Carberry endorsement

Mike Carberry, former Democratic candidate for Governor, is supporting labor union president Cathy Glasson for Iowa Governor in the June 2018 Democratic primary.

“Cathy Glasson is having a conversation with Iowans about the issues that are most important and that can’t be ignored. She is proposing the bold progressive answers that will make the change that the 99% of Iowans need to be healthy and prosperous,” said Carberry.

“She has focused with passion on the issues that matter most to Iowans,” said Carberry, a Johnson County Supervisor. Glasson is worth standing up for because she is standing up for Iowans, Carberry said.

One of the highest-ranking elected officials to endorse Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Iowa caucus, Carberry said Glasson has connected well with Sanders supporters across the state. “I am pleased she is standing up for the issues that drove half of Iowa Democrats to support Sanders,” he said. Those issues include an increased minimum wage, clean water, renewable energy, health care for all, and free community college tuition.

“After the disastrous legislative session that decimated workers’ rights, voters’ rights, and education funding, and left the state in a financial hole, Cathy Glasson and her populist policies are the answer Iowans need to prosper again,” Carberry said.

In Johnson County, Carberry cast the deciding vote to increase its minimum wage, and he appreciates Glasson’s support of a $15 an hour minimum wage for Iowa. “What we started in Johnson County needs to be increased to a living wage for all Iowa workers to give them a more solid financial foundation, and to accelerate economic growth for all businesses across the state,” said Carberry.

As a professional environmental lobbyist for several years, Carberry is encouraged by Glasson’s support of a moratorium on CAFO’s and a plan to make polluters pay for clean water in Iowa. “I want a governor who will lead the way and sign environmental legislation, not one who dithers and gets in the way of progress. With Glasson’s background in public health, we can have clean water and cleaner agricultural practices in Iowa,” he said.

Carberry stated that Glasson’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and support of expanded clean renewable energy initiatives are also attractive to him. “I have fought against coal plants, nuclear power plants, and dirty oil pipelines. Iowans deserve a Governor who puts our health before profits and understands that clean energy is not only the best environmental future but also is an economic solution to bring more good clean jobs to Iowa. Cathy knows climate change is already hurting Iowans and she knows the solutions we need. ”

Glasson is also showing leadership in public health in Iowa, Carberry said, by promoting a statewide version of “Medicare for All” if there is no action on a national program. “The Medicaid disaster of the Reynolds Administration needs a bold response, and Glasson knows exactly what Iowa needs to do to secure affordable health care insurance for its citizens,” said Carberry.[10]



Cathy Glasson for Governor, November 19, 2017.

With Anthony Rhoads, Mike Carberry, Erin Madsen, Kurt Michael Friese, Nora Taft, Tom Carsner, Maria Houser Conzemius, Anna Jane Harris Riffe, Kathy Lilli, Riley S. Wilson and Caldwell Benita Hernandez DR.

Caucus for Cathy Glasson for Governor!

Iowa, États-Unis

Monday 5 February 2018, 18:30 till Monday 5 February 2018, 20:30

Organized by : Cathy Glasson for Governor

We're building power for a bold, progressive agenda in 2018 by talking with our neighbors about issues that are important to them, and getting them re-engaged in the process at every step!

We are organizing for:

✔Universal Single Payer Healthcare

✔Union Rights and a repeal the right to work law

✔Clean Water & Air as a birthright for all Iowans

✔A $15 minimum wage now

✔Fully funding education

Find out where you go on caucus night to stand up and fight back!

Those indicating attendance on Wherevent included Sarah Hunnicutt, Madalyn Anderson, Marissa Gordinier, Logina Mostafa, Dennis Platt, Stephen Tews, Alex Anderson, Louie Meier, Chris Laursen, Tim Glaza, Vern Tigges, Laura Metz, Lou Baker Ramsey, Molly Arndt, Jp Claussen, Peter Taft, Kevin Shilling, Lisa Foster, Anne Silander, Linda Lundberg, Linda Lundberg, Perry Lenz, Eli Shepherd, Alexa Rodriguez,[11]

Progressive Change Campaign Committee

A day after formally entering the race for the Democratic nomination for governor, Coralville nurse and union president Cathy Glasson was endorsed by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Glasson is an “authentic, gut-level economic populist who is instinctively on the side of working people,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Stephanie Taylor said in the endorsement.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee describes itself as the “Elizabeth Warren wing of American politics and advocates for populist priorities like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform and universal health care.

Glasson “is one of the top bold progressives running for governor this cycle,” Taylor said. “With her history as a nurse and an advocate for workers, Cathy will bring bold progressive change to Iowa with a $15 minimum wage, expanding union rights and Medicare for all.”

The endorsement follows Glasson’s participation in an hourlong conference call with Progressive Change Campaign Committee members during which she fielded questions about her agenda.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee plans to email its million members, including more than 7,600 in Iowa, asking them to help fund Glasson’s campaign. Since its founding in 2009, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has raised more than $25 million for progressive candidates and committees. It raised $1.17 million from 70,000-plus small-dollar donations for Elizabeth Warren’s 2012 Senate run.

Glasson is not a stranger to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. She attended its national candidate training earlier this year and joined Taylor on a panel at Netroots Nation 2017 about the ongoing opioid addiction crisis.[12]

Progressive Change Campaign Committee sent a fundraising message for Glasson to the one million people on its e-mail list and has been promoting her on its social media feeds.[13]


Many people, including Iowa City councilor Rockne Cole, COGS grad student Scott Olson, UI professor Packy Moran, John Green of Lone Tree, and Brad Pector, who said that without the Affordable Care Act, his health insurance would cost over $100,000 a year, spoke up for Cathy Glasson.

The first to speak up for Cathy, Pauline Taylor, a progressive Iowa City councilor, has known Cathy Glasson for 19 years. They've both been nurses together at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. They've both been members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

I knew Cathy before she became SEIU president and before she married Matt Glasson, who was at the time our labor attorney. Back when I knew him, Matt used to say, "You could probably fit all of the labor lawyers in the state in one café booth." Matt characterizes himself as a labor educator today. He was always both.
I was an SEIU steward working for the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program. Our working conditions at HACAP were so deplorable that we joined SEIU in a right-to-work state (the right to work is the right to work for less money and few or no benefits). Don Maniccia, our then manager, decreed that he'd stop giving us Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July off as holidays and instead make us take those holidays off out of our meager 10 days a year vacation time. Even poorly paid Head Start teachers, social workers, secretaries, and clerks, mostly women, knew that was a screw job. So we voted to join the union. Don Maniccia didn't even know he had to bargain with us once we formed a bargaining unit. We had to educate him by forcing him to the bargaining table.
Of course, years later, doing their corporate masters' bidding, Republicans made it harder to join unions in 2017 and ongoingly, harder to certify unions, difficult or impossible to collectively bargain with management, difficult or impossible to collect workman's compensation if you're hurt on the job . . . all of the labor rights that unions worked hard to pass into legislation. That's why it's important to vote for a union friendly gubernatorial candidate. You can't get any more union friendly than Cathy Glasson. She's the real deal. She's not just campaigning for governor. She's fighting for fast-food workers who are trying to get better pay.

"I'm tired of getting beat up," she said as one worker to the rest of us. "One third of Iowa households can't pay their bills. People can't send their kids to college on less than $15 an hour.

"Kim Reynolds, the unemployment rate may be low, but the misery index is high. Iowans are ready to rise up for clean water, for fully funding education, for bringing back collective bargaining rights, for bringing back a strong workman's compensation law for workers hurt on the job, and for a $15 minimum wage!"[14]

Student support

Iowa Student Action organizer Ross Floyd says that his organization’s involvement in Cathy Glasson’s progressive campaign for Governor was ultimately worth it, despite the fact that Glasson lost the Democratic primary, taking third place. “We built infrastructure, expanded our base, and developed our leaders at a scale that couldn’t have happened without this campaign,” says Floyd, noting that in the last 4 days before the election alone, “Iowa State Student Action staffed 140 shifts, made 7,663 phone calls/door knocks, had 1,663 conversations, and identified 839 Glasson supporters.”

He also speaks to the limits and frustrations of electoral organizing, making the case that elections have been designed to play to the strengths of our opponents. Floyd says, “A millionaire essentially bought the election. He spent $7 million of his own money to buy ads that completely drowned out our narrative. A single campaign cycle isn’t nearly long enough to combat that kind of money.” But he argues that makes the involvement of movement organizations all the more vital.

According to Floyd, the other tactics and strategies we have at our disposal can work in concert with electoral organizing, and all mutually benefit one another. “We can play outside the experience of opposition and organize before and after campaigns to deepen our narrative, and up our chances to actually winning elections. We need deep long-term organizing that builds relationships and aggressively uses direct action to bring the crisis of day-to-day life into the spotlight. But it’s governing power that will maintain our victories and lead us toward deeper change.”[15]

Healthcare rally

On September 22 2017, Glasson spoke at a rally in Iowa City, where U.S. Senator Joni Ernst was holding a town hall. Action Iowa, Indivisible Iowa, Planned Parenthood Voters of Iowa, Americans for Democratic Action Iowa, Hawkeyes for DREAM Iowa, and Student Advocates for Planned Parenthood organized that event. From a Glasson campaign news release:

“Governor Reynolds is encouraging our U.S. Senators to support a plan that will mean 172,000 Iowans lose their healthcare,” Glasson told assembled activists. “The loss to Iowa in federal health care funds will be $2.3 billion dollars. Premiums will increase by $4,500 per year for the average Iowan. How can the Governor of Iowa possibly think this is a good idea? How can our U.S. Senator Joni Ernst think this is right for Iowans?”
Glasson said she’s spoken to too many Iowans who can’t afford the care they need and seen what happens on the frontlines as an ICU nurse. “I’ve seen it in the intensive care unit— people who are just one emergency away from being wiped out, “ she stated. “I believe we need Medicare for All. If corporate lobbyists, insiders and sell-out politicians won’t do the right thing in Washington, then we have to lead the way here in Iowa and pass our own version of single-payer universal healthcare care at the state level—everyone in, no one left out.”[16]

Netroots Nation

Cathy Glasson was a panelist at Netroots Nation 2017.



  1. [The Nation, Socialism Comes to Iowa By Nicolás Medina Mora and Rebecca Zweig DECEMBER 20, 2017]
  2. [1]
  3. [The Nation, Socialism Comes to Iowa By Nicolás Medina Mora and Rebecca Zweig DECEMBER 20, 2017]
  4. [The Nation, Socialism Comes to Iowa By Nicolás Medina Mora and Rebecca Zweig DECEMBER 20, 2017]
  5. [ Daily Iowan, The Daily Iowan Aug 1, 2017 DI Editor - FIGHTING FOR THE WORKERS]
  6. [2]
  7. [3]
  9. [4]
  10. of Iowa, Johnson County Supervisor Carberry Endorses Cathy Glasson for Governor
  11. [5]
  12. The Gazette, National populist group endorses Cathy Glasson for Iowa governor, James Q. Lynch The Gazette More stories from James Sep 21, 2017
  13. [6]
  14. Patch, Cathy Glasson, ICU Nurse, SEIU President, and My Choice for Governor, By Maria Houser Conzemius, Patch Contributor | Sep 22, 2017
  15. [7]
  16. [8]