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Changing how we count our wins

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, November 17, 2017

By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

Over the past four years, the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation has been embracing a more ambitious and dynamic strategy where our campaigns don’t just stop on election day.

We’ve worked hard to expand our scope from solely focusing on typical election activities.

We’ve also focused our political work on growth, training, supporting member activism and building deeper solidarity within our ranks and with our allies.

As an anti-worker economic system run by the one percent comes barreling at us and as our political landscape becomes more high-stakes, we clearly need a strategy of deeper member engagement and solidarity.

Now, it’s time to double-down.

We’re moving to a new model where our organizing drives our politics, not the other way around. This means that our strategic decisions around elections are rooted in growth, leadership development and real conversations about the state of all working people.

We’re moving to a new model where our organizing drives our politics, not the other way around.

Come the day after an election, we no longer can count just our endorsed candidates’ victories.

We also need to measure the levels of activism, education, and growth of our union members, as well as our ability to advance a pro-worker message in our communities. These things are much more difficult to measure in a technical sense, but they are the building blocks we need to go on to win in the workplace, in our city halls, and in our communities.

With 2018 looming in the background, we knew that our program in 2017 needed to be scrappy. Our 2017 work needed to first and foremost be rooted in leadership development to build out the team we will need over the next 12 months.

We spent less money on mail and independent expenditure activities and more time and effort on volunteer recruitment, membership engagement, voter guides and candidate forums.

For 2017, this was a winning combination. Overall, we chalked up wins with a slate of exciting new Minneapolis Park Board candidates, a majority of our Minneapolis City Council candidates, a handful of targeted school board candidates in our suburbs and massive victories in almost every single education levy in our jurisdiction.

We had a few losses and setbacks in a handful of locations — including losses for a few leaders that we hold dear to us — but overall the mood is a step in the right direction.

More importantly, however, in several communities  our issues became the issues which school board and city council candidates were talking about.

In the northwest suburbs, we mobilized dozens of new local leaders who are willing to continue the work of turning Anoka around into 2018 and beyond.

Also in the northwest suburbs, we elected champions for working people in traditionally very red communities.

As a result of bold leadership from the Building Trades and Education Minnesota, trades members, teachers, parents, and community members teamed up to win historic investments in public education and union construction through successful levy campaigns all over the metro. 

Thank you to everybody who helped us over the last six months, particularly to the affiliates who are helping us to develop this new vision.

Now our sights are set on building capacity across the diverse mosaic of our entire seven-county jurisdiction to win for workers in 2018 and beyond. We are all in this together, no matter where you live across the seven counties.

We all need to embrace the young new leadership in the City of Minneapolis, recognizing their new energy and diversity as an asset that positively impacts workers across our entire state.

In every community, our local elected officials, policy initiatives and workplace campaigns will continue to be the launching pad to win the pivotal 2018 Governor’s election, to advance a pro-union agenda, and to create a future that builds prosperity for all working families.

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


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