President's Corner: June 22
Like many families, it has been a busy time at my house as the school year winds down this week. My son is finishing kindergarten, and my daughter is finishing second grade, and I see their excitement for the start of summer vacation. I cannot help but think of the parents in Uvalde, Texas, who won’t be able to see their children complete the school year. My heart breaks for the parents and the families of the teachers brutally murdered last month. It looks like lawmakers in Washington may be close to agreement on sensible gun safety legislation.
Here in Minnesota, MAPE recently concluded its spring internal elections. Congratulations to our new statewide Treasurer, Local 601’s Chet Jorgenson, two new regional directors, Region 7’s Carolyn Murphy and Region 20’s Kay Pedretti, a whole new Negotiations Team, and many other member leaders. A complete list of MAPE election results is available here:
The legislative session is over, and it’s time to begin gearing up for the statewide elections and primaries. We do not know whether there will be a special session, but lawmakers approved our 2021-2023 contract before leaving the Capitol.
It is more important than ever to get involved and help elect labor-friendly candidates. There will be plenty of opportunities to show your support for the working people of our state and join candidate door-knocks, phone banks, and other campaign activities.
Even though the Legislature approved our contract last month, it’s time to start negotiating our new 2023-2025 contract. Regional negotiators have been elected and will hold their first two-day meeting next week. Negotiators want to hear from you about what you want to see in the new contract. Plans are underway to develop a member survey, statewide listening sessions, and contract action teams. Thousands of you participated in these activities two years ago, and we hope to see even more member participation this time.
Many MAPE members served on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I hope those of you eligible for the frontline worker bonus pay will be sure to apply by July 22 https://frontlinepay.mn.gov/submit. MAPE was part of the task force that fought for these funds, and we want all members who worked to keep Minnesotans safe during the pandemic, often risking their health and the health of loved ones, to be acknowledged.
I hope most of you will celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday your Negotiations Committee fought to include in our contract. Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, marks the last enslaved people freed in Galveston in 1865. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had freed enslaved people two years earlier, there were few Union soldiers in Texas to enforce it.
We still have much work to do on equality and inclusion in our country to achieve the “better angels of our nature” referenced by President Abraham Lincoln in his first inaugural address.
Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of how things are. Instead, President Barack Obama said, “It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, things do get better. America can change.
“So, no matter our color or creed, where we come from, or who we love, today is a day to find joy in the face of sorrow, count our blessings, and hold our loved ones a little closer. And tomorrow is a day to keep marching.”
I look forward to marching with you.