Bobby Kasper: Super Bowl will showcase union workers

Bobby Kasper

Bobby Kasper

It doesn’t take most people very long to realize I’m not a native Minnesotan. My New York accent is usually a dead giveaway. But after living here for 20-plus years, Minnesota is the place I’m proud to call home. That’s why I was thrilled to learn the Twin Cities will play host to Super Bowl LII in 2018. The biggest sporting event on U.S. soil is our opportunity to show off to the world the multitude of reasons Minnesota is a great place to live.

The Super Bowl will be a showcase for the work Minnesota’s union members do every day to make Minnesota the “quality-of-life state” it is. Just think of the many ways union workers will be on the front lines of the effort to showcase Minnesota to the rest of the world.

Our hospitality workers will be the first point of contact for the 100,000-plus visitors expected to descend on the region for the Super Bowl, including fans, media members and industry professionals. Members of UNITE HERE, the hospitality workers’ union, can be counted on to provide visitors with professional service in our hotels, bars and restaurants.

Members of Building Trades unions, of course, will have built the stadium in which the Super Bowl will be played, and members of the Service Employees International Union will keep it clean. Stagehands, members of IATSE Local 13, will ensure the circus of events leading up to the big game goes off without a hitch. Bus drivers and train operators, members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005, will see that visitors get to all of their destinations safely, conveniently and on time.

Our public employees, members of AFSCME, will help the Twin Cities region roll out the welcome mat, readying our infrastructure, making our parks and public building shine, and plowing the snow and ice from our roads and bridges if necessary.

Speaking of ice, it’s rumored that our brothers and sisters in the Building Trades will once again tackle the tall task of building an eight-story Ice Palace in St. Paul. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but the palace could go up during Winter Carnival and remain for the Super Bowl. Volunteers from the Building Trades constructed the world’s largest ice castle the last time the Super Bowl came to Minnesota, in 1992.

So regardless of whether you’re a football fan or not, as Minnesotans we have plenty of reasons to be excited about Super Bowl LII coming to town. Sure, it will be cold. And yes, it will be crowded. But if we put our best foot forward – and with union members on the job, I’m confident we will – the Super Bowl has the potential to attract more visitors, more conventions and more big events to our region down the road. That’s good for hospitality workers, good for our local economy and good for tax revenues.

– Bobby Kasper is president of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, with more than 150 affiliate unions representing more than 50,000 union members in the East Metro.

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