Labor 2022 volunteers say their freedoms, fundamental rights are on the ballot

Judy Seeberger, the endorsed candidate in Senate District 41, thanks volunteers at the United Steelworkers hall in Cottage Grove.

Energized to help re-elect Gov. Tim Walz and deliver majorities that will move labor’s agenda in the Minnesota Legislature, union volunteers are hitting the streets across the state and talking with fellow members about the stark choice voters face Nov. 8.

On one side are corporate-backed extremists who have aligned to strip working people of their basic freedoms and fundamental rights. On the other side, labor-endorsed candidates are fighting for dignity and respect for all workers, no matter their race, gender or zip code.

“It’s all about balance of power in the workplace and at the Capitol, and labor-endorsed candidates understand that,” said Eileen Weber, a registered nurse and member of the Minnesota Nurses Association from Denmark Township. “They’re the ones who support the kind of justice we need more of in this country.”

“I care about pensions, collective bargaining rights, health care, women’s rights, human dignity,” said Willie Snyder, an AFSCME Council 5 member who works in a residential facility for people with disabilities. “For me, it’s Walz-Flanagan. They get it. The other side only seems to be interested in looking out for millionaires.”

Snyder and Weber joined a Labor 2022 door knock in Cottage Grove last month, urging support for Walz and other endorsed candidates in hotly contested races in the southeast suburbs, including Rep. Angie Craig’s re-election bid in the 2nd Congressional District.

Craig has unabashedly supported pro-union measures like the PRO Act, the $1 trillion infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act, which ties tax credits to “buy-American” requirements, prevailing wage and apprenticeship training programs.

“Labor-endorsed candidates make sure people like me are going to stay in work,” said Craig Bell, a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 82.

Volunteers also sought to give candidates for the state Legislature a boost, looking to preserve a pro-union majority in the House and deliver one in the Senate. The list of pro-union investments and policy measures blocked by Republicans who control the Senate is long: statewide paid family leave, unemployment benefits for hourly school employees and safety standards for refinery workers to name a few.

But what stung many union members most was Senate leaders’ decision – at the urging of GOP gubernatorial nominee Scott Jensen – to walk away from an agreement to invest much of the state’s $9 billion surplus in schools, public safety, tax relief and infrastructure jobs.

That’s not the kind of leadership working Minnesotans want, said Wally Borgen, a Labor 2022 volunteer and president of Bakery Workers (BCTGM) Local 22.

“We need elected officials who support working people,” Borgen said. “The future is at stake, and if we have the wrong candidates in here, it changes everything in this state. We need unions to get stronger, and we don’t need them attacking our solidarity or everything unions stand for.”

Labor 2022 organizers said volunteers will be needed through Election Day. To get involved, call your local union or email Colleen Nocerini, St. Paul Regional Labor Federation political organizer, at cnocerini [at] stpaulunions [dot] org.

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