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Commentary
Minneapolis suburbs hold key
to worker-friendly legislature

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, August 26, 2016

By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

Every two years, the outcome of our state legislative elections determines the direction of our state. This year, the entire House and Senate are up for election—meaning we can either deliver Governor Mark Dayton a working families majority in the legislature, or we can continue to deal with an obstructionist majority in one or both of the chambers.

The choices are stark. We can elect a majority that expands collective bargaining rights — or one that proposes “Right to Work.” We can elect a majority that invests in our infrastructure, transportation and transit—or one which has no plan or vision to address our aging roads. We can elect a majority that believes in a world-class education system for our students — or one which is willing to borrow against and underfund our students.

The path to a statewide victory for worker-friendly majorities in the Minnesota House and Minnesota Senate runs directly through the Minneapolis-area suburbs—so we’ve got our work cut out for us at the MRLF. We will be targeting five Senate seats and seven House seats in the suburbs in 2016.

Some 23,575 registered union members live in these districts—these are the people we will be talking to on the doors, on the phones and in our workplaces over the next two and one-half months. These 23,575 union members will help determine the outcome of these important races.

We can either deliver Governor Mark Dayton a working families majority in the legislature, or we can continue to deal with an obstructionist majority in one or both of the chambers

We are going to need to fight hard to win a worker-friendly majority in the Minnesota House and retain a worker-friendly majority in the Minneota Senate. But we know that a worker-friendly majority is not enough. Our leadership development and activism needs to be squarely aimed at winning AND educating members and elected officials about an economy that works for all workers. Our elected officials have the power to balance the economy, but they need the courage and backing to stand up to the powerful corporate agenda to do so.  

In addition to our state legislative races, we will be working on the presidential race and some very exciting local races. Some great community leaders have stepped forward to run for office in their local school board and city council races. Our local elected officials hold power and influence in their communities. From prevailing wage, to teachers’ contracts, to sub-contracting, local elected officals make decisions every day that impact workers and our unions. We look forward to highlighting those candidates between now and the election.

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t address the race that the world is watching—this year’s presidential election. With Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket, it is our duty to our members and to all workers to change the narrative about what the middle class should expect from their elected officials.

I grew up knowing that hard work and perseverance in the face of obstacles was how you succeeded, not berating those who thought differently. I have experienced a labor movement that fights for those trying support themselves and their families, not humiliating their economic situation for entertainment.

Donald Trump is enjoying the support of some middle class voters because he is appealing to the economic anger we all are feeling—including some of our very own union members. We need to channel that anger into a positive agenda for shared prosperity—not elect politicians with a proven track record of discarding and disvaluing workers.

We need everyone in this historic year. Join us at our doorknocks, talk to your co-workers and share your story. Your voice as a worker is important. We have the power to influence the outcomes November 8. To do so, we need to show up. We need you to participate.

To volunteer for Labor 2016, click here for days and times.

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

 



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