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Minnesota union members mobilize to oppose anti-middle class 'Right to Work' amendment

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, February 24, 2012

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS— Minnesota union members are working to build a bi-partisan coalition of state legislators to block the legislature from putting an anti-middle class “Right to Work” constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot.

If passed by a simple majority of both houses of the state legislature, Governor Mark Dayton has no veto over a constitutional amendment, which goes straight to the November ballot.

The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation has presented more than two dozen briefings on “Right to Work” to groups of union members in recent weeks, reaching more than 1,000 people, The goal is to inform union members and engage them actively in spreading the message that “Right to Work” is wrong for Minnesota and wrong for the middle class.

Governor Dayton, in his State of the State Address February 15, spoke out against the “Right to Work” amendment.

Whether or not the amendment advances in the legislature in the next few weeks will depend on legislators hearing from constituents.

The current language in the amendment would put this question on the November 2012 ballot:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to guarantee all citizens the individual freedom to decide to join or not join a labor union, and to pay or not pay dues to a labor union?”

“The misleading ballot question, however, doesn’t inform voters about what’s really going to happen if the amendment language that’s not printed on the ballot becomes law,” notes MRLF president Bill McCarthy, writing in this issue of the Labor Review (see link).

“No matter what deceptive names they give this amendment — ‘Right to Work’ or ‘Employee Freedom’ — the result would be to weaken collective bargaining, weaken unions, weaken the union contracts that support a middle class,” McCarthy writes.

“This amendment is unnecessary, unfair, and unsafe,” McCarthy emphasizes.

Visit www.WeAreMinnesota.org for more information, or to pledge to take action and stay up-to-date.

In the coming weeks, the MRLF plans to continue presenting briefings on the “Right to Work” amendment in community settings and in local union halls. The briefings run one hour.

For any questions, or to RSVP, or to schedule a briefing for your union or organization, contact: Adam Robinson, MRLF community and political organizer, at adam@minneapolisunions.org or 612-321-5672.

For the latest MRLF briefing schedule, visit www.minneapolisunions.org.

Here is the current schedule of labor briefings open to any union member:

Saturday, March 10, 10:00 AM
Boilermakers Local 647
9459 NW Hwy. 10, Suite 105, Ramsey

Thursday, March 15, 6:30 PM
Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota
3200 Main St, Suite 360 (Wells Fargo Bank Building), Coon Rapids

Tuesday, March 20, 6:30 PM
Chaska American Legion
102 West Fourth Street, Chaska

Tuesday, March 27, 6:30 PM
Minnetonka High School
18301 Hwy. 7, West Entrance, Minnetonka

312 Central Ave., Room 550

2012 Legislature

Call your state legislators and tell them, “‘Right to Work’ is wrong for the middle class." 

Click here for link to contact your state senator

Todd Eddy (left) and Stan Green (right), members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, are taking time off from their jobs at Metro Transit with support from their union and now are working full-time as part of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation’s effort to mobilize union members to oppose the anti-middle class, “Right to Work” constitutional amendment. They may be phoning YOU to invite you to come to one of the MRLF’s briefings (see schedule). Green, St. Paul, is an 18-year mechanic for Metro Transit. Eddy, Minneapolis, is an 8-year bus driver for Metro Transit. “This is a really important fight for working folks in this state,” Eddy said. “It would be a disaster if it passed.” Green said, “a lot of people don’t understand because it sounds good… The most important thing we’re doing is educating a lot of people.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. on 'Right to Work'

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights.

“Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone... Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking about right-to-work laws in 1961


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