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Commentary
Building the future of the workers’ movement

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, January 22, 2016

By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

I am grateful for the opportunity and charge that has been placed upon me as the newly-elected president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.

I’ve worked with MRLF affiliates, leaders and activists since 2012 as the MRLF’s political director and campaigns manager.

I come into my new role as MRLF president with open eyes, an unwavering commitment to workers and an immense amount of optimism for the future of the labor movement.

With the help of our affiliated unions, community allies and workers all across our jurisdiction, I believe we can continue the long history of this federation in building a movement that advocates effectively for workers and their families, both in their workplaces and in their communities. 

With the help of our affiliated unions, community allies and workers all across our jurisdiction, I believe we can continue the long history of this federation in building a movement that advocates effectively for workers and their families, both in their workplaces and in their communities. 

My own path into unionism and this position is a testament to the future of the labor movement, the workers’ movement. I did not grow up in a union household. I am part of a generation of workers who did not learn about labor unions in any phase of my education.

However, one fateful day at my job as a union grocery store clerk, my steward introduced me to a union organizer who signed me up for a basic organizer training. Prior to this experience, the union was little more than a fleeting thought during my years of employment.

But that invitation to a training opportunity is what led to my future involvement in campaigns and ultimately, worker organizing.

In hindsight, I had been an organizer my whole life, but it was my union —the United Food and Commercial Workers — which recognized that aspect of me and gave me the opportunities to build on that skill.

I challenge our affiliated unions to find the organizers who don’t even know they are organizers in their ranks — and help develop them into the next generation of up and coming leaders of this movement.

I’m serving today as president of the MRLF because leaders before me took risks, challenged me, helped me develop my skills, and most importantly, asked me to do the work.

As 2016 begins, the MRLF and our affiliated unions face a busy and challenging year.

Midway through this important political year, we’ll get news of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could have a major impact on public employee unions and, ultimately, the collective bargaining power of all unions.

As we watch the Friedrichs case unfold, it is just another example that the challenges facing our movement never have been greater. Conversely, these challenges also mean our opportunities for growth never have been greater.

We are at a critical time where our relationships with the community are invaluable to the success of a workers’ movement and we need to work to make those relationships stronger than ever before. 

My hope is to inspire our affiliated unions to bring the best of themselves to the table as we continue to fight back against the corporate agenda and chart a path towards growing a prosperity shared by all.

I will work with our affiliates to adapt to the new on-demand economy — an economy that is brimming with young workers, talented workers, diverse workers and workers who have a strong sense of justice in their workplace and in their own communities.

I’d like to ask you — will you get involved with your union and the MRLF for our work together in 2016?

Contact MRLF president Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou at 612-321-5670 or chelsie@minneapolisunions.org.

 



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