Labor leaders praise members’ election efforts

Minnesota labor leaders say the efforts of thousands of union members paid off in Tuesday’s high voter turnout and wins by many labor-endorsed candidates. “Minnesotans firmly rejected the politics of division, restriction and corporate greed and embraced a call to build a better state for today and tomorrow,” Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson said.

“By electing a pro-middle class majority to both chambers of the Legislature, Minnesotans have rejected the extremism and gridlock that plagued the 2011-2012 session. By rejecting constitutional amendments that would have limited the freedom to marry and the right to vote, Minnesotans showed that we are an inclusive state.

“I am proud of the work that the thousands of union volunteers did in educating voters on the issues and the candidates.”

The Minnesota AFL-CIO is a labor federation made up of more than 1,000 affiliated unions, representing more than 300,000 working people throughout the state.

Tom Dooher, president of Education Minnesota, said, “Minnesota voters have rejected the misplaced priorities and gimmicky politics of the majority party and given the Legislature back to the DFL.”

“Those same voters will now expect thoughtful and lasting solutions to real-life issues. In education, those solutions must target the academic achievement gap, create a system of education funding that will fuel the best schools in the nation and build a robust system of continuous improvement and evaluation for our teachers.”

Dooher said his union is proud of the effort its members made to defeat the proposed constitutional amendments.

“Our educators helped bring to light what the voter ID proposal was all about – an expensive solution to a nonexistent problem that would have disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters,” he said. “Our members were also a key part of the coalition that defeated the constitutional ban on gay marriage.

“As educators, we will resist all policies that validate anti-gay bullying. Also, we’re in a state that rightly requires educators to treat all students equally, so we believe that all educators – gay and straight - should be treated equally by the state.”

Education Minnesota represents 70,000 teachers and educational support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers.

Jim Monroe, executive director of MAPE, the Minnesota Association of Public Employees, praised the efforts of MAPE members, friends and families.

“We told you that without any doubt whatsoever, the fate of your current and future MAPE contracts depended upon the outcome of Tuesday’s election,” he said. “You responded by knocking on doors and staffing phone banks from one end of the state to the other. You talked to your coworkers, friends, neighbors and families to remind them what was at stake this election.

“You reminded Minnesotans that since being elected to power two years ago, the legislative majority brought forth more than four dozen heavy-handed proposals designed to decimate the state workforce and eliminate collective bargaining rights. The legislative majority hoped you had forgotten that they caused last year’s three-week state government shutdown that left 20,000 hardworking state employees out of work.

“Your hard work paid off!”

MAPE represents 13,000 professional employees of the State of Minnesota.

Brian Aldes, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 320, called the election “a blow-out win for Teamsters and the labor movement.”

“Here in Minnesota, 68 percent of Teamsters Joint Council 32 D.R.I.V.E. endorsed candidates won election. Most important of all, D.R.I.V.E. endorsed candidates now have majorities in both chambers at the statehouse,” Aldes said. “With Governor Dayton in control of the executive branch, and the DFL in charge of the legislative branches, I can say with confidence that the Freedom of Employment Scam (right-to-work) is dead.”

“We now can get to work on our local union’s political agenda, and not just political defense,” he added. “We won’t face the type of anti-labor agenda from legislators that we faced in the last session. So, again I thank all of our volunteers for their hard work to get out the vote!”

Teamsters Local 320 represents public and law enforcement workers.


Reprinted from Workday Minnesota.