Democrats in Congress introduced legislation to provide a pathway to “legal residency” for an estimated 9 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. a decade ago. The measure drew support from unions, religious groups and immigrant organizations.
Ten years later, of course, the fight for immigration reform continues.
Unions 10 years ago made up a key part of the Alliance for Fair Federal Immigration Reform of Minnesota, and they announced their support for the “Safe, Orderly Legal Visas and Enforcement Act,” or SOLVE Act, which “focused on family reunification, earned legalization and reducing visa backlogs,” The Advocate reported.
[The Union Advocate’s “This Month in the Archives” feature offers a look back at what the newspaper was reporting from 5 to 100 years ago. Our digital archives are online, searchable and free to anyone. Click here for access.]
100 Years Ago: Call for public market in St. Paul
Farmers and consumers would benefit greatly from the establishment of a municipal marketplace in St. Paul – that was the conclusion reached in a report printed on Page 1 of The Advocate on May 29, 1914.
“Investigations in various places have shown that the cost of distributing food after it reaches the city is excessive and bears very heavily upon the consumer.”
Transportation costs – rail and shipping – were not to blame for high costs, the report determined. Rather, “the real problem is distributing the products after they reach the city. There are too many middlemen, and there is too much speculation and altogether too much waste.”
“Every large city should have a market municipally owned and operated, capable of handling train loads and equipped with adequate machinery for handling and cold storage facilities ample to care for any surplus of perishable goods. From this market produce could be sent directly to the retail stores or sold in retail market stalls directly to the consumer.
The report noted such markets were rare in the U.S., but pointed to successfully operated markets in European cities like Budapest, Brussels and London.
“We see the farmers everywhere organizing to get higher prices for their crops… The farmers are determined to take for themselves the profits that now go to the middlemen… If consumers would get their food for less cost they must organize for that purpose. Great terminal wholesale markets may furnish the machinery for serving the consumer, provided the consumer owns and operates those markets either by cooperation or municipal enterprise.”
75 Years Ago: Veterans sue governor over firings
Fifteen members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees who were war veterans sued the State of Minnesota after being discharged from state jobs without cause shortly after Gov. Harold Stassen’s inauguration in January 1939.
The union, according to a report in the May 11 edition of The Union Advocate, accused Stassen and members of his administration of “officially and personally maliciously” conspiring to remove the veterans from their positions with the Disabled War Veterans’ Relief Agency.
“On January 31, 1939, during office hours and without previous notice, moving men from the State Relief Agency came to the office where these men were employed and moved the desks, equipment, and records from under them,” The Advocate reported. “A number of the veterans, whose duties were outside of the office, came to work the next morning and found their desks, records and equipment were gone as well as their jobs.”
Other state employees were growing “panicky,” according to The Advocate, that their jobs might be lost to political patronage.
25 Years Ago: Union gives Brown & Bigelow a lift
A year after fighting off demands for major concessions, unions representing workers at Brown & Bigelow, the St. Paul printing company, announced they had helped the company bring in new equipment to increase its productivity, efficiency and bottom line.
Officers of Local 1-M of the Graphic Communications International Union called it a remarkable turn of events, considering Brown & Bigelow President William Smith, after acquiring the company a year earlier, had immediately demanded a 10 percent wage cut and told workers to “take it or leave it.”
The company, which employed about 625 people at the time, installed $60,000 worth of plate processing equipment with assistance from the union. The equipment, provided on a loan basis, included a conversion unit for developing printing plates and an oven for baking and hardening them.
“The state-of-the-art units are faster, more efficient and safer than previous methods,” The Advocate reported.
Local 1-M officer Kevin O’Keefe struck an optimistic tone. “We are anxious to turn this thing around so we can bargain wage gains,” he told The Advocate.