Bobby Kasper: Union candidates share our values, amplify our voice

Bobby Kasper

Every election cycle our unions interview and consider endorsing candidates for public office, from local school boards and city councils to the Legislature and Congress. We want to know which candidates share our values. We want to know who stands with us on issues that matter to working families, like affordable health care, quality schools and a fair economy.

As someone who has been through more of these candidate screenings than I could count, I can say this with absolute certainty: No one understands our issues better – or articulates our priorities with greater clarity – than union members. Too often candidates seek our support without understanding the issues that keep our unions strong, like prevailing wages, collective bargaining rights and labor-peace agreements.

That isn’t the case with these three labor-endorsed candidates for school boards in the East Metro, all of whom deserve our support in the Nov. 7 elections.

Craig Angrimson. If he’s elected to the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school board (ISD No. 196), Craig won’t need a crash course in what labor unions are all about. Since exiting the Marine Corps, Angrimson has spent his entire career in the labor movement, working for Northwest Airlines as a Machinist from 1987 to 2006 and, later, as a chief wastewater operator for the Met Council. Within three years of taking that job, Craig was elected president of Operating Engineers Local 35, which recently merged with Local 49. He is a member of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation Executive Board.

After working union his whole life, Angrimson has little time for those who would build or improve school buildings without a Project Labor Agreement, or seek to privatize any district employee’s job.

He has lived in District 196 for 25 years, and his daughter, Rachel, graduated from high school in 2015. Craig is exactly the kind of elected official we need. Whether we’re parents, taxpayers or employees in the district, he’s walked in our shoes.

• Sean Brown. A longtime member of the Carpenters union, Sean is seeking a two-year term on the South Washington County School Board (ISD No. 833). Like Craig Angrimson, Sean has deep roots in the district, with two stepchildren currently attending Woodbury High School and a daughter who graduated in 2014.

Voters who see Sean’s name on their ballot also will see three levy questions that, if approved by voters, would preserve the district’s fiscal health and invest in upgrades to aging classroom technologies. Sean has been a supporter of these levy requests from the start, and it’s a big reason he earned the endorsement of teachers in his district. Without levy support, the district would face cuts that threaten to increase class sizes, reduce course offerings and eliminate extracurricular activities.

• Don Mullin. A second-generation trade show decorator and member of the Painters and Allied Trades union, Don is seeking re-election to the White Bear Lake Area School Board (ISD No. 624) after winning a seat four years ago.

Don currently serves as Executive Secretary of the St. Paul Building and Construction Trades Council. He understands better than anyone the skills young adults need to enter the workforce – and how our public schools can prepare them for the next step in their career, whether that’s a four-year college, a vocational school or an apprenticeship program.

Most importantly, Don understands, as Sean and Craig do, that the primary job of school board members is to equip teachers and other professionals with the tools they need to do what’s best for our children. As union members, we know that by working together and having each other’s back we can achieve great things. It’s a lesson some in Washington, D.C. would do well to learn.

– Bobby Kasper is president of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, representing more than 100 affiliate unions with over 50,000 members in Chisago, Dakota, Ramsey and Washington counties. Find a complete list of the federation’s endorsements at www.stpaulunions.org.

 

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