Posts Tagged ‘attorney general lori swanson’

Sunday I wrote about Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and the unrest in her office. I also offered a message to the AG. Today I am not surprised but certainly distressed that the AG has put assistant attorney general Amy Lawler on administrative leave. Once again, Eric Black at MinnPost.com has the story. MPR’s Tim Pugmire also reported on the Lawler administrative leave. The audio is here. Pugmire reports:

Swanson sent a packet of information to DFL Legislative leaders this week insisting that state law prevents attorneys in her office from unionizing. She also claimed union organizers have been using a common tactic to stir the pot as their campaign falters.”

Sounds like she has been reading the union busters handbook instead of the text of the Employee Free Choice Act. If the Minnesota law needs to be changed then she should be advocating for that change to allow her staff to freely make their own choice and should not be standing in the way.

While many people are probably not following these events real close or don’t really care, I must confess that I have a certain fondness for the Office of the Attorney General and what they have done in the past to make my life safer. If you have read some of my earlier posts you would know that I work in the meat packing industry. In the mid 90’s MNOSHA came to Worthington to do a wall to wall inspection at the Swift & Co. plant where I work. After a thorough inspection the company was cited for numerous safety violations, many of them serious. Of course the company challenged these citations and was prepared to fight it in court. I won’t bore you with many details but the Attorney General’s office was able to reach a settlement agreement with Swift & Co. (now JBS Swift). The settlement agreement allowed MNOSHA and the AG’s office to monitor abatement progress over a three year time period. As the head of the union safety committee at the time I had the privilege to work with a number of assistant AG’s. They were persistent. They were efficient. They were professional. They were not intimidated by the highly paid and arrogant corporate lawyers who would try anything to get out of compliance with the law. My workplace was made much safer and the corporate attitude on safety turned around because of the efforts of the Attorney General’s office and MNOSHA. The unions efforts alone could not have accomplished that and thousands of workers have benefited.

I am grateful.


Peace & solidarity,







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As Martin Luther King once said: ” The time is always right to do what is right.” Nowhere is this more true than in the office of the Attorney General. 

Those words, AG Swanson, are from your inaugural remarks upon taking office in January 2006 2007.

You talked about Clarence Darrow:

… a famous lawyer from the last century who used the law to fight for the rights of labor and people without clout. Darrow once said that: “As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.”

You also had this to say:

My mission is for the Attorney General’s Office to fight for the rights of everyday people, and especially those without a voice.In my Attorney General’s Office, no one will be so powerful they are above the law or so powerless they are beneath its protection.

We will be attentive and responsive to the needs of our citizens, and we will never forget that it’s the people of Minnesota who pay our salaries and whom we serve.

In your remarks you ask the question, “What makes a good Attorney General?”, and you offer some answers:

An Attorney General should put the public interest above all else.

An Attorney General should help everyday people get a fair shake when the deck is stacked against them by those who hold the cards.

An Attorney General should make sure that everyone, no matter who they are or who they know–or who they don’t know–has an Attorney General on their side.

Pretty good speech Ms Swanson but is that all it was? A bunch of words that have no real meaning to you? Maybe you should read it again and then ask these questions:

Would a good Attorney General hold captive audience meetings to coerce employees into opposing the union?

Would a good Attorney General use fear and intimidation to run the office?

Would a good Attorney General let over 50 professionals from the office leave and not care?

Would a good Attorney General ask the employees to sign a loyalty pledge?

Would a good Attorney General fire or reassign employees who are involved in the union organizing effort?

Attorney General Swanson, please reread the section of your inaugural remarks about Clarence Darrow. You know, the part about a famous lawyer who uses the law to fight for the rights of labor.

Step out of the way. Respect the will of your employees. Do your job of protecting the rights of all of the citizens of Minnesota, including your staff.

 Martin Luther King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” Heed his advice.

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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