September 2, 2022
Happy Labor Day, MAPE members. As we celebrate this holiday weekend with family and friends, we can also celebrate that support for labor unions in the U.S. is 71 percent – the highest since 1965. Here in Minnesota, we have our highest union membership in 14 years. Minnesota ranks sixth highest among all states, with its percentage of union-represented workers at 17.1 percent.
Minnesota's unionized workers rose from 4.5 percent to 416,000 between 2020 and 2021. Retail workers in our state and nation are primarily responsible for the increase. Still, we're also seeing membership increases in many other sectors, including organizations like the Minnesota Historical Society and Abbott Northwestern Hospital.
As the trade union and labor movement grew in the nineteenth century, President Grover Cleveland signed legislation making Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894. Labor unions then fought for better wages, reasonable hours and safer working conditions. The labor movement also led efforts to stop child labor and campaigns for health benefits and aid to injured or retired workers.
Achieving many of these goals is determined by elected officials' support, which is why it is so important to elect labor-friendly candidates. We negotiate with the governor and his budget agency on our contract, and state legislators will have the final say by voting our agreement up or down. We need elected officials at the Capitol who value our expertise and government service over privatization. Candidates who will fight for workers and families.
Which candidates share your union values? Check out MAPE's website for candidate endorsements and voting records at https://mape.org/2022-mape-pac-endorsements. Door knock and phone bank for labor-friendly candidates. Our vote is our power, and we must be intentional about who deserves it.
Political candidates are as synonymous with the Minnesota State Fair as the Midway rides, pronto pups and mini doughnuts. If you plan to attend the Great Minnesota Get-Together on Labor Day, I hope you'll wave to your MAPE colleagues participating in the parade or visit us at the AFL-CIO barn booth. I want to give a shout out to Local 2101 President Liz Pearson and MAPE Vice President Angie Halseth for pulling all the fair activities together and to all MAPE members who are volunteering to show fairgoers that labor means business in our state.
Labor Day weekend signifies the unofficial end to summer – folks are trying to get in one more swim at the local pool, a cabin trip or get kids ready for a new school year. My kids started school this week, so I did all of that running around last weekend. It is still hard for me to believe my daughter Lydia is in third grade, and my son Silas is a first grader. Where did the time go? I hope my children, and yours, have a good school year ahead of them.
Best wishes for a relaxing holiday weekend. Cheers to the work of our long-ago labor siblings and our own.
Megan Dayton, President