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On the Issues: Labor

August 25, 2017

The fight for workers’ rights, led by unions and grassroots activists, has underpinned key policy moves in Minneapolis in recent years. From an increase in the minimum wage to guaranteed paid sick and safe time, our city is making important strides toward a more equitable, just economy. As a former union employee and the son of two union public school teachers, I deeply understand and respect the strength of workers coming together.


As part of the City Council, I pledge to keep up this fight and partner with labor groups to ensure City Hall is responsive to workers’ needs. Ensuring these voices are heard is essential to making things better for Minneapolis families -- both inside and outside the workplace. In turn, taking care of workers means our local economy will be better off.


I believe Minneapolis can be an example of a progressive economy that thrives. To get there, we need to make sure workers’ voices are heard and that businesses have the tools they need to succeed while paying a living wage.


We’ve seen the progressive change that organized labor can spearhead in our community, and I’ve seen it firsthand throughout my career. As legislative director for SEIU Local 880 in Chicago, I fought for and won wage and benefit increases for working families. My first day working with SEIU, we protested Walmart’s plans to open non-union stores within the city limits of Chicago. I later wrote legislation that gave low-wage union workers health care for the first time.


These efforts were successful because workers bravely joined together to speak out against the injustices they faced and because we built a coalition that included business. I understand the risks workers take to fight for change, and I respect the courage it takes to stand up for your rights in a broken system. For these reasons, I will continue to be a vocal advocate for workers. As your City Council member, I will publicly support workers in organizing campaigns by doing what I have always done: fighting during negotiations for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions. I will walk the picket line if necessary.

The workers of Minneapolis must have the right to unionize and City Hall needs to actively protect that right. I will have regular check-ins with labor and bring those voices to the table in creating related policy. To protect workers’ rights, I will draw from my extensive experience building strong coalitions that bridge widely disparate viewpoints, skills, education levels, and strategic visions. I will fight for policies that favor working families, that ensure equal pay for equal work, and that consistently prioritize the needs of those who make our city work -- even (and perhaps especially) when it’s not politically expedient.


I have fought for union rights and working families through my entire career, and I will continue to do so as part of the City Council. I intend to work closely with labor leaders to protect and amplify the gains that have made Minneapolis a progressive leader, while also recognizing there is always more work to be done.


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