October 3, 2014
By Neal Tepel
ST. Paul, Minnesota — Politics was the Focus at the Minnesota AFL-CIO Convention in St. Paul, Sept. 21-23. However, the delegates celebrated a big organizing win: SEIU gained 26,000 home health care workers. Representatives of the group spoke at the convention about the importance of having a voice on the job.
Unfortunately, the SEIU organizing win was the exception. Throughout the state, employers mounted successful anti-union campaigns with the help of consultants and attorneys. With businesses resistant to pay more than minimum wage, attempts to unionize workers became a costly difficult battle for labor organizations.
The home health care organizing success was tied directly to politics. Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, pushed through pro-worker legislation that would allow home health care workers the right to organize.
But Minnesota's workers face threatened attacks on their collective bargaining rights similar to those in Wisconsin if the Republicans triumph in this fall's election. So delegates focused on re-electing Dayton, retaining the DFL legislative majorities and re-electing Sen. Al Franken, to a new 6-year term.
At the convention, Dayton pledged to keep the focus on job creation. "Good jobs, union jobs, with more jobs to follow," said. Dayton. "We need to keep investing more in Minnesota – and if I'm around, we will," concluded Gov. Dayton. Republican Jeff Johnson opposes Dayton this fall.
Under Dayton's leadership, lawmakers voted in 2014 to invest $1 billion in infrastructure projects This created thousands of jobs for construction workers and others. If re-elected, Dayton promised to advocate for a comprehensive transportation plan to rebuild bridges and roads and beef up transit and other services. "With your help and support, we'll keep moving ahead," he said in thanking the state fed for its early endorsement.