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Commentary
Moving the ball forward

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, November 18, 2016

By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation entered Election Day 2016 after carrying out one of our most robust political programs ever. We knocked on close to 20,000 union members’ doors to talk about issues and our endorsed candidates. Our volunteers and release staff were as equipped as ever to talk local issues and to cut through the noise of the national election.

While AFL-CIO endorsed Hillary Clinton won the state of Minnesota and the nationwide popular vote, Donald Trump won the electoral college and many important swing states, making him the next President of the United States.

Working families face many challenges ahead, especially people of color and families who recently have immigrated here.

The labor movement is ready to continue to move the ball forward on racial and economic justice for our members and our broader community — and that has never been more important than it is today.

One thing is clear: we must engage in education and take action throughout our membership and in all the spaces in which we hold power and influence.

We have a lot of work to do. We canít just sit on our hands and wait for the next political election to make change. We need to lead change outside the confines of our traditional political structures.

Despite our best efforts, the overwhelming national mood of angst and uncertainty spilled over into our state races, too. In addition to Republican control for the White House, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, both houses of our state legislature also will be led by Republican majorities. Only Governor Mark Dayton and his veto power will be a backstop to harmful legislation.

One bright spot in our Labor 2016 electoral program: several new up and coming leaders were elected throughout our region to the legislature, to city councils and to school boards.

In the western suburbs, dynamic educator Steve Cwodzinksi won his race for state Senate, defeating David Hann,  the Republican Senate leader.

In Minneapolis, all four labor-backed school board candidates swept into office with a squarely pro-public education, pro-equity agenda for all children.

Debbie Goettel won her seat as the newest Hennepin County Commissioner and Maria Regan Gonzalez will be joining the Richfield City Council.

In Brooklyn Park, Susan Pha will be the first-ever person of color to serve on their city council.

We couldn’t be more inspired by these great local candidates who are the future leaders of our state.

In a time when workers are being squeezed from all angles, and with the mounting political forces against our backs, it’s more important than ever that we bind together to organize ourselves and to organize the unorganized across all sectors.

I’m optimistic that our Minnesota values will prevail, and despite some changes in leadership, we will move an agenda that will improve the lives of all workers.

We have a lot of work to do. We can’t just sit on our hands and wait for the next political election to make change. We need to lead change outside the confines of our traditional political structures.

One way we can lead that change is to be leaders within our unions and within our local communities. We need to have hard conversations about the economy, racism and sexism in our homes, churches, community gatherings, and most importantly, in our workplaces.

We need to live our values in our everyday interactions. Join your union to fight for a better life for all workers, take leadership and get involved. It’s the only way we can win.

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

 



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