Archive for the ‘Minnesota AFL-CIO’ Category

At least at Corner House Comments.

The next seven weeks will see me working full time on GOTV (get out the vote) efforts on behalf of Labor in Minnesota. In the interest of disclosure, this is a paid position. I have taken a leave of absence from my regular Union (UFCW)  job as a forklift operator at JBS Swift in Worthington.

My posts may be infrequent (nothing new there), and of course the opinions expressed by me (CHC) are mine and do not represent the official views of the AFL-CIO or Change To Win organizations. I do not get paid to maintain this blog.

Peace & solidarity,


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Election Day is bearing down on us quickly and many people and organizations are working hard to elect their candidates. One such group is the Minnesota AFL-CIO  which has gathered over 500 delegates in Duluth this week to listen to candidates, pass resolutions, and get fired up for the remainder of this election cycle. Monday, September 15, delegates will take part in “Turn Around America” and will doorknock the city of Duluth, talking to union families about the issues and labor-endorsed candidates. WorkdayMinnesota has coverage of the convention.

I am reminded of an old Doobie Brothers tune, ‘Takin it to the streets’.

You don’t know me but I’m your brother
I was raised here in this living hell
You don’t know my kind in your world
Fairly soon the time will tell
You, telling me the things you’re gonna do for me
I aint blind and I don’t like what I think I see

Take this message to my brother
You will find him everywhere
Wherever people live together
Tied in poverty’s despair
You, telling me the things you’re gonna do for me
I aint blind and I don’t like what I think I see

Here is an excellent live version of the Doobie Brothers preforming performing, ‘Takin’ It To The Streets’, that I would like to dedicate to the brothers and sisters in Duluth.


Peace & solidarity,





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If you are going to attend the Minnesota State Fair be sure to check out the new Minnesota AFL-CIO Labor Pavilion. It is the first State Fair Building designed to meet ‘Green’ Building Standards and was built with union labor. Fox 9 News has video here. Check it out to see all the cool features. Senator Amy Klobuchar will be present for the ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday.

Here are the details from the press release.

Media Advisory for August 21, 2008   


Diane O’Brien (651) 261-4173 (cell), 651-227-7647 (office) Andrea Gage (262) 309-0754 (cell)





Minnesota AFL-CIO Hosts Series of Events at New State Fair Pavilion

At 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 21, the Minnesota AFL-CIO will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at its new green, eco-friendly State Fair pavilion featuring a visit from U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. The event will be followed with a performance by musician Tim Mahoney.

Throughout the day, journalists and members of the public are invited to tour the facility (the first State Fair building designed to meet ‘Green’ Building Standards) and take part in the following activities:

* Learn about Working America, the fastest growing organization for workers in the country

* Videotape your message on what you expect from the next president and see yourself on the Minnesota AFL-CIO Pavilion Media Wall

* Talk with union members about their work

For a full list of opening weekend activities, please visit http://www.mnaflcio.org.

To arrange an interview with a representative of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, please call Diane O’Brien at (651) 227-7647 or Andrea Gage at (262) 309-0754 (cell).

Minnesota AFL-CIO Hours of Operation

* Opening Day 10:00 a.m.- 8 p.m (Pavilion tours for members of the media beginning at 9:30 a.m.)

* Daily 9:00 a.m.-8 p.m.

* Labor Day 9:00 a.m.-6 p.m.


Who says labor and environmentalists can’t get along?

Here is some Ray Charles for your audio/video pleasure:



Peace & solidarity







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The Minnesota AFL-CIO along with rank and file union members who are veterans gathered in St Paul at the capitol today, July 10, to launch the Union Veterans Council.  The AFL-CIO Union Veterans 2008 website states:

Some 2.1 million union members, or 14 percent of all union members, are veterans of military service. The AFL-CIO is bringing together union leaders and members who are veterans to speak out to and hold government officials and candidates accountable to the needs of our returning heroes—not only for Labor 2008, but beyond.

The event coincided with similar events in Milwaukee, Denver, Dayton, Ohio; and Charlston, W. VA. WorkdayMinnesota covered the event and has this quote from MN AFL-CIO President Ray Waldron:

Like all working people, veterans are worried about our future and our children’s future. Our country is headed in the wrong direction,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Ray Waldron, who participated in Thursday’s event. “The first-ever union veterans council will bring union veterans together across Minnesota on the issues that matter most to veterans, our families and all working people. And we’re starting by working to elect leaders who will put working people’s concerns first.”

Public News Service Minnesota also has this story and audio with MN AFL-CIO Communications Director Diane O’Brien.

The AFL-CIO will be running tv ads in selected states featuring Jim Wasser, a Vietnam veteran.




Speaking of veterans issues, Ollie OX at  A Bluestem Prairie has two posts up today:

Click on the titles

Wa Times on hearing: “Why Does the VA Continue to Give a Suicide-Inducing Drug to Veterans with PTSD?”


House passes Homeless Vets bill; Bush threatens veto


The Veterans Council is a welcome addition to the AFL-CIO and will help bring together veterans to focus on issues and to elect reperesentatives( like 1st District Congressman Tim Walz) who will be responsive and accountable to their constitiuencies.


Peace & solidarity,







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The effort to unionize the staff at the Minnesota AG’s office has been going on for some time now but this last week has seen a resurgence in news about the organizing drive and Attorney General Lori Swanson’s efforts to quash it.

The office of Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is riven by fear, politicization, low morale, intimidation tactics and constant turnover, which led to a unionization drive and has now been further aggravated by the management’s reaction to the effort.

That is the opening paragraph from Eric Black at MinnPost.com in his recent column, Staffers detail climate of stress, politicization in AG’s office.

MPR also covers the story and has audio while Workday Minnesota reports: Organizing in Attorney Generals office garners international attention.  LabourStart.org has made the unionizing effort one of its current campaigns.

The organizers at the AG’s office has a blog where they post updates at: AG Organizing Update

AFSCME Council 5 posted this on their website:

Call Attorney General Lori Swanson immediately at 651-296-6196.  Tell her to stop union busting and recognize the union chosen by her attorneys.Also, call the legislators who appropriate funds for the Attorney General’s Office: Senator Don Betzold (651-296-2556) and Representative Phyllis Kahn (651-296-4257).  Tell them not to fund the Attorney General’s union-busting activity.  

 You can also participate by going to LabourStart and send an email to AG Lori Swanson.

Yours truly also has some comments in: A Message to Attorney General Lori Swanson

Peace & solidarity, CHC  

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Health care has been one of the major issues of this current presidential campaign. Minnesota Central, a frequent visitor to Corner House comments, has left a comment about one of my previous posts which mentioned this issue and H. R. 676. Introduced by Representative John Conyers (D), of Michigan, HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system in the U.S. by expanding a greatly improved Medicare system to every resident.

A recent email from Unions for a Single Payer described H. R. 676 as this:
HR 676 would cover every person in the U. S. for all necessary medical
care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient
services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental
health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for
substance abuse), vision care, chiropractic and long term care.  HR 676
ends deductibles and co-payments.  HR 676 would save billions annually by
eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance
industry and HMOs.

HR 676 currently has 88 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers. Currently, the only member of the Minnesota congressional delegation that I am aware of to sign on as a co-sponsor is Rep. Keith Ellison, (DFL) from the 5th CD.

HR 676 has been endorsed by 367 union organizations in 48 states including
95 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 32 state
MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL & CA). The Minnesota AFL-CIO is one of the state federations that has passed a resolution of support.

UPDATE: 02/10/2008: additional endorsers of HR676 in Minnesota include: Duluth Central Labor Body/AFL-CIO, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), Southern Dakota County Labor Council/ AFL-CIO, Apple Valley, MN, Minnesota State Council of Machinists, IAMAW, Vandais Heights, MN, Council 5, AFSCME, St. Paul, MN,  and United Steelworkers (USW) Region 10 (which includes Minnesota).

Jason over at IDHA takes a look at the issue and the recent recommendations from the Minnesota’s task force appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.

It is always good to have thoughtful dialogue about the issues but I think we have about maxed out on dialogue, task forces, and commissions. The health care system is not a crisis, it is a disaster! Conyers’s H. R. 676 is ready to act on whenever our political leaders decide to stop talking and start passing legislation.

Contact your representatives and tell them to support H. R. 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act.

Peace & solidarity,


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Five years ago on October 25 the labor movement, the State of Minnesota, and the nation lost a great friend and Senator in a tragic airplane crash in northern Minnesota. Sheila Wellstone, his wife and a strong voice on the issue of domestic violence, was also lost along with their daughter, Marcia Wellstone Markuson. Friends and confidants Tom Lapic, Mary McEvoy, and Will McLaughlin also perished.

I remember the day clearly as I was working and a coworker came up to me and asked if I had heard that the Senator’s plane had crashed. I couldn’t believe it and I did not want to believe it. I could think of nothing else the rest of the day and as soon as I punched out I raced to my car to turn on the radio. The news announcer confirmed what I didn’t want to hear. Senator Wellstone had been killed in an airplane crash. It was a long tearful drive home. Our lives would change forever.

I had been blessed to have many opportunities to meet the Senator and his wife Sheila. It was always exciting and energizing. I was always impressed with his decisions to take stands on controversial issues despite the political fallout. Paul Wellstone’s courage on the Iraq War resolution is something we see little of today.

The last time I saw Paul and Sheila Wellstone was in early August of 2002 at the Minnsota AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention in Duluth, Minnesota. It was a happy and exciting time. As usual, Paul had energized the delegates and we were eager to go out and work hard on his re-election.

I had an opportunity to take these pictures at a poolside rally for Senator Wellstone. Please excuse the quality as I had an older digital camera at the time and it was hard to capture the Senator standing still. Click on the pictures for a larger image. For additional information and pictures about Senator Wellstone and his wife Sheila go to the Wellstone Action online archive.

Delegates to the 2002 MN AFL-CIO convention wait poolside for Senator Wellstone. Can you find Paul in the crowd?


This was a familiar sight as Senator Wellstone energizes the crowd!


Alan Netland, President of the Duluth Central Labor Council enjoys a moment with the late Senator Paul Wellstone. Netland now also serves as the President of the Northeast Area Labor Council.


Sheila and Paul Wellstone with Alan Netland at the 2002 MN AFL-CIO convention in Duluth.


Peace & solidarity,


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The state’s largest labor organization has announced new staff changes. Here is the press release from the MN AFL-CIO:

Brad Lehto has been promoted from Legislative Director to Chief of Staff and Jennifer Schaubach has been promoted to Legislative Director. In related action, the federation hired Candace Lund to direct its mobilizing and organizing programs. (more…)

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