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New MRLF field organizer Joanna DeLaune will work in northern suburbs on Labor 2012 campaign

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, August 24, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation has hired a second field organizer to work on the Labor 2012 campaign, Joanna DeLaune. She began work August 16.

DeLaune will staff the MRLF’s independent work on legislative races in the northern suburbs. There the MRLF will be connecting with union households to help several labor-endorsed candidates win election: John Hoffman (Senate District 36), Grace Baltich (House District 36A) and Alice Johnson (Senate District 37).

These Senate districts have a very high proportion of households which include union members.

“What we’re engaged in here is incredibly important,” DeLaune said. Winning a labor-friendly majority in the state legislature will be important to stopping “Right to Work” proposals from coming back. “This is one of the times we really need to focus on electoral politics,” she said.

DeLaune comes to the MRLF fresh from a union organizing drive at the University of Minnesota. Teaching assistants and research assistants there waged a two-year campaign seeking collective bargaining rights. “I was a teaching assistant in history and I got involved in the organizing campaign,” DeLaune related. “I was really involved with the whole process.”

Contact the MRLF's new
field organizer,
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Strong opposition by the U of M administration, however, led to a March 2012 graduate assistant vote to reject unionizing. “You know how it is in an organizing campaign — the employer has such an advantage,” DeLaune said. “A lot of people wanted a union but we weren’t able to overcome that.”

“I’ve done a lot of political organizing before I got involved in the labor movement,” DeLaune reported. She served as a Democratic Party precinct captain in Fairfax County, Virginia from 2005-2009. During the 2008 presidential campaign, she ran weekly canvasses and phone banks — helping win Virginia for Obama.

DeLaune, 34, grew up in Louisiana and then lived 10 years in the Washington, D.C. area. She graduated from George Mason University in Virginia with a B.A. in history in 2008. She moved to Minnesota in 2009 to pursue a Ph.D. in American history at the University of Minnesota. She lives in Minneapolis.

Contact MRLF field organizer Joanna DeLaune at 703-309-4958 or e-mail her at joanna@minneapolisunions.org.


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