One of Cretex’s key business partners won’t meet with workers on strike at the company’s Shakopee plant. So on Sunday those workers will take their message to Medtronic’s highest-profile event of the year: the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.
Thousands of marathon runners and spectators will find a billboard placed prominently along the route at Hennepin and 7th Street downtown Minneapolis, calling out the title sponsor for failing to listen to Minnesota workers.
More than 40 members of Laborers Local 563 have been in a marathon struggle of their own for the last 15 weeks. They went on strike June 19 after Cretex refused to budge from its demand they give up retirement benefits many workers had been self-funding for years.
How does Medtronic fit into the dispute? The Minneapolis-based company buys a wide range of medical products manufactured by Cretex. If Medtronic talks, Local 563 Business Manager Tim Mackey said, Cretex will listen.
That’s why workers, rebuffed in previous attempts to meet with Medtronic executives about how they could help resolve the dispute, will use Sunday’s marathon to try again.
“An event like this gives us the chance to make another appeal to Medtronic and get them at the very least sit down with us and hear our side of the story,” Mackey said in a press release earlier this week.
Leaders across the state are echoing Mackey’s request. In a letter to Medtronic, Shar Knutson, president of the 300,000-member Minnesota AFL-CIO, said the company’s response shows “profound disrespect for those employees, for organized labor and for working people.”
Striking workers met with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton about the dispute – and its possible effect on the state’s construction projects – last week.
The billboard features a parody of Cavity Sam, the character from the classic board game “Operation,” telling Medtronic it’s time to step in and help bring the strike to a conclusion.
“We support all the runners who are participating in the 32nd Annual Twin Cities Marathon, and we hope they will support our members whose endurance has been tested as they fight for their retirement security,” Mackey said.