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Ken Sagar retiring as President of Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; Charlie Wishman to take over

Charlie Wishman

DES MOINES – Ken Sagar is retiring as the President of Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and Charlie Wishman is taking over the job, it was announced today.

Ken first became an employee of Iowa Electric and Light and Power Company at the Sutherland Generating Station near Marshalltown, Iowa.  He worked there from 1975 to 1985.  Ken Sagar then was elected Business Manager/Financial Secretary of IBEW Local 204 in March of 1985 through 1997.  He served as President of the Iowa Utility Workers Conference from 1987 to 1997 as well.  He also was President of the Iowa State Conference of the IBEW, from 1989 to 1997.  He then went on to serve as Secretary-Treasurer of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO from 1997 to 2008.  In 2008, Ken became President of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO until April of 2020.

Ken Sagar at Labor Temple in Mason City back in 2012

“Working with trade unionists in Iowa has been the honor of my life,” said Sagar. “I believe that working people deserve more than simply surviving, we need, to paraphrase Samuel Gompers, ‘more.’ We need to rein in the corporate excesses and create a society that values work and those who do it. A society that puts our children, our seniors and those who need our assistance before the creation of more wealth for the wealthy. We can do this and so much more, together.”

“Ken has been a tireless advocate for worker’s rights, and the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO wishes him and his family a happy and healthy retirement,” said Charlie Wishman. “He’s been a voice for workers for decades, and he won’t stop that important work.  While he may be retired from this position, anyone who has ever met him knows that Ken won’t be retiring from the fight.”

Charlie Wishman and Peter Hird were appointed by the IFL Executive Board at a special meeting on April 30, as President and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively. They both will officially take office May 1, 2020.

Charlie Wishman became Secretary/Treasurer of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO in January of 2012.  Charlie is a member of AFT Local 716, and has also previously been a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) as well as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).  He worked as the Community Liaison preforming various duties from working in the warehouse to speaking to kids about hunger for the Food Bank of Iowa from 2003-2006, and then became a union member when he became an organizer for Iowa Citizen Action Network in 2006.  In 2009 he became a staff member of AFSCME Council 61 as a Communications Specialist.  In the fall of 2011 Charlie came to work at the Federation as Communications Director before stepping into the role as Secretary/Treasurer in 2012.  He is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa.

“I’m excited to take on this new role and its challenges, however fighting for workers’ rights and safe workplaces have been what I’ve always done and was raised to do.  The team at the IFL is second to none, the unions that make up the Iowa Federation of Labor make us proud every day, and we’re excited about what we will be able to accomplish together.  The Federation was first formed in 1894, and we’re excited to continue this work that’s been going on for over 125 years.”


Peter Hird is from the Dubuque area, where he worked as a inside wireman electrician with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 704. He received an Associate’s degree in Electronics (2002). He served on the local apprenticeship committee. He was a trustee for pension and health & Welfare, on the executive board and Vice President. From 2014 thru 2020 he was a union organizer for the local, with two successful organizing drives with Dubuque hotels.


“Serving the members of the Iowa Federation of Labor is an incredible opportunity. I look forward to building on work done by those before me and expanding Iowa’s labor movement,” said Hird.

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