Labor backs Smith in Senate re-election bid

Sen. Tina Smith talked with striking GM workers on the picket line in Hudson last year.

The state’s largest labor federation, the Minnesota AFL-CIO, issued its first endorsements of the 2020 election cycle earlier this month, backing Sen. Tina Smith’s reelection campaign and DFLers in the 1st and 7th Congressional Districts.   

Smith, who will be back on the ballot just two years after winning an election to serve the remainder of Al Franken’s term, serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.  

Already, she has emerged as a leading advocate for several of organized labor’s top legislative priorities, including pension reform and protections for workers employed by the federal government and its contractors.  

Earlier this month, she introduced a bill that would prevent companies that mistreat their employees and repeatedly break workplace-protection laws from receiving taxpayer-funded federal contracts. The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act is largely similar to an executive order issued by President Obama and repealed in 2017

“If companies break the law, then they should not receive taxpayer-funded government contracts,” Smith said. “But right now too many federal contracts are being awarded to companies with egregious and repeated violations of worker protection laws. While most contractors treat their workers fairly, we should be cracking down on the bad actors that put workers’ lives and livelihoods at risk.” 

The Minnesota AFL-CIO General Board also voted to endorse 7th District Rep. Collin Peterson’s re-election bid, and Dan Feehan in the 1st District. 

“No matter where we were born or what we look like, the members of Minnesota’s labor movement are united in common purpose to elect leaders who share our values of dignity, justice and freedom for working people.” Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy said, adding that endorsed candidates “have demonstrated a strong commitment to working Minnesotans and our values.” 

More labor endorsements are expected in the coming months. 

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