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Now less than one year away, work begins for 2012 elections

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, November 25, 2011

By Bill McCarthy, President, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

The November 2012 election is now less than one year away. Between now and then, the political work we do together as union members will be some of the most important work we do in our lives. And we should be approaching this year for what it will be: the fight of our lives.

Here in Minnesota, we’ve got to work to elect labor-friendly majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate who will work with Governor Dayton to make jobs a priority.

The right-wing ideologues who run the legislature now, as we saw this past legislative session, are no friends of unions or working families. Thanks to Governor Dayton’s promised vetoes, their extreme policy agenda was blocked.

We missed the opportunity for a large bonding bill to get people back to work, however, and the whole state suffered from a government shutdown stemming from the legislative leadership’s unwillingness to compromise with the Governor.

Come the start of the state legislative session in January, we will need to ready for round two of this fight.

We will need to be especially swift — and forceful — in preventing any attempts to put anti-union constitutional amendments on the November 2012 ballot. If the legislature votes for constitutional amendments, Governor Dayton has no veto, and the questions will go before voters in November. Stopping such measures in the legislature will be much easier than waging expensive campaigns to defeat constitutional amendments on the November ballot.

The recent vote in Ohio, where a referendum defeated anti-union measures by 61-39 percent, should give pause to anyone contemplating putting the same type of policies attacking collective bargaining  on the ballot here in Minnesota.

The decisive Ohio vote gives the labor movement some exciting momentum nationally as we head into 2012.

Come the start of the state legislative session in January…
we will need to be especially swift — and forceful — in preventing any attempts to put anti-union constitutional amendments on the November 2012 ballot.

We’ve been generating our own momentum here in Minnesota, too.

The Special Election October 18 in Senate 46 saw labor union member and DFLer Chris Eaton win election with nearly 62 percent of the vote. This win is significant: voter turnout in special elections is light and, in several previous elections in this district, the results have not gone our way. We won because of a good candidate and because of the hard work of many people: knocking on doors, making phone calls, getting out the vote. Local unions also sent letters to members in District 46 urging them to vote.

The General Election November 8 brought wins for two MRLF-endorsed candidates in Bloomington: Gene Winstead, running for re-election as mayor, and Tim Busse, running for city council at large. With other friends on the city council, we’re excited about the work we can do to promote good jobs in Bloomington.

The General Election November 8 also brought wins for about 80 percent of the 113 school levies on local ballots across the state. These results show that voters support investing in education, support taxes that are about investing in strong communities.

Historians of the future may look back to 2012 as a decisive year in our history. Will the nation and Minnesota rise up to defend the middle class? Will we restore labor-friendly majorities to the state legislature and U.S. House? Will President Obama win re-election?

These are the questions. I encourage you to be part of the answer.


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