Mike Asmus returns to a new MAPE and new job

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Mike Asmus

Mike Asmus is proving novelist Thomas Wolfe wrong by showing that you can go home again. Asmus recently returned to MAPE as Director of Member Engagement, Development and Organizing after previously serving as a business agent.

“I had loved working for the members six years ago, and it was a great leadership opportunity to work for the members here again and help them build power for their union,” Asmus said. “The biggest differences I see today are there are fewer committees, yet more member leaders and more intentionality to diverse leadership by gender, race and age. There is a wider community represented and we’re working to be a more inclusive and equitable union.”

Before accepting his current job with MAPE, Asmus was working for St Paul Federation of Educators. “I covered half of the schools in St. Paul. Shortly before I left, educators struck, the first strike in 70 years,” Asmus added.

Asmus originally left MAPE for the National Education Association (NEA) where he traveled the country doing organizing work for the teachers’ union. He worked for NEA in Wisconsin right after Act 10 had passed and learned that “politics matter.”

“Relational organizing is the basis for everything we do now. We have a true understanding of everyone’s self-interest and can mesh it with our collective interest,” he said.

Asmus added that as a movement, we have power from different sources. The first is collective resources: we pool our resources together to advocate for our professions and the state of Minnesota. The second is collective people: being able to act in concert with each other.

“The third is collective ideas. People have so many different creative ideas that even if I was a staff person, or a member leader may not know the next best idea, we use everyone’s collective intelligence to figure out the next way forward,” Asmus said.

Asmus is a second-generation labor family; his father was a member of the Communications Workers. Asmus is the father of two daughters and a stepdaughter, aged 10, 11 and 12, and admits there is the possibility of a third generation of labor interest in his family. “The girls grew up around unions... They grew up doing house meetings and strike lines,” he said.

Outside of work, Asmus said, “I enjoy being with my girls and partner, and love trail running.”