Local organizer glimpses challenge of building worker power in South

Lured by generous tax incentives and low wages, foreign automakers have steadily increased their footprint in Southern states over the last two decades. Their employees earn less than union members at the Big Three domestic automakers, but attempts to organize workers in the South’s new, foreign-owned plants have almost always failed. The most recent defeat […]

Bernie Hesse: ‘Don’t do something out of charity, do it out of solidarity’

He is gruff and often combative, principled and usually blunt. But above all else, Bernie Hesse is a trade unionist. From his days as a grocery clerk to his current work as director of special projects for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189, Hesse has made himself ubiquitous in St. Paul’s labor community. If […]

New worker center reaches out to poultry, packinghouse workers in Minnesota

The Hardman Avenue Workers Center, located at the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189 hall in South St. Paul, opened with a celebration and free citizenship workshops for immigrant workers last week. The goal of the initiative, Local 1189 organizing director Abraham Wangnoo said, is to “start teaching people what their rights are,” particularly […]

Stamp Out Hunger with union-made products

Letter Carriers nationwide will help restock food shelves in their local communities May 13 during the annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. It’s the largest one-day food drive in the country –and a shining example of the many ways union members give back to their communities every day. So why not double the impact of […]

Medical cannabis workers’ new contract reflects industry growth

Workers at Minnesota Medical Solutions, one of two companies authorized by the state to produce medical cannabis, voted unanimously Jan. 12 to ratify a new union contract that reflects – and anticipates – growth in the industry. The three-year pact includes annual wage increases, provides premium pay for lead positions and time spent training other […]

Lawmakers seek answers as Walmart strains local police time, municipal resources

State Rep. John Lesch, a prosecutor in St. Paul for 15 years, can recite the address from memory: 1450 University Avenue West. That’s Walmart’s Midway location, and it is a magnet for shoplifting and other petty crime that, like several other Walmart stores in Minnesota and across the country, absorbs a disproportionate amount of attention […]

Challenges remain, but soccer stadium breaks ground in Midway district

Youth soccer players and local dignitaries sent dirt and snow flying during a ceremonial groundbreaking Dec. 12 for the planned 20,000-seat pro-soccer stadium in St. Paul’s Midway district. The $250 million construction project remains in the early, exploratory stages, and snarls remain both at the Capitol, where lawmakers must sign off on a property-tax exemption […]

Protesters say Trump, Walmart share the same values

From selling goods manufactured overseas to avoiding federal taxes, Walmart and Donald Trump have a lot in common. In fact, it’s a connection so strong that Walmart sells products promoting Trump’s presidential campaign on its website. Nearly 50 people connected the dots between Trump and Walmart at a protest Monday in St. Paul’s Midway shopping […]

During break from negotiations, UFCW members provide lifesaving first aid

Four Prescott Nursing and Rehabilitation Community workers got more than they bargained for during a break from contract negotiations Tuesday in South St. Paul. As Gayla Morrison, Kim Nelson, Jody Pederson and Karen Peterson walked into Angelo’s Italian Restaurant for lunch with their union representative, they noticed a woman hunched over, struggling to breathe. “It […]

Dave Kamper: Missed opportunity 50 years ago offers insight into labor’s current challenges

The Union Advocate recently reported that Local 1189 of the UFCW has rejected a so-called “final offer” in negotiations with the owners of Cub, Rainbow, Lunds & Byerly’s, and other major retail grocers in the East Metro. Notably absent from the negotiations, of course, are two of the largest grocery retailers in the Metro, Wal-Mart […]