Supporting labor is supporting Minnesota
Hundreds of public employees took over the Capitol on Tuesday, meeting with legislators and rallying with elected leaders as part of MAPE and AFSCME’s Days on the Hill.
Gov. Tim Walz kicked off MAPE’s morning rally by thanking members and committing to continued support for the services they provide. He shared his response to a recent question of whether he’d support labor unions or Minnesota if given the choice.
“And I said ‘Oh no, you don’t have to make that choice because it’s very clear. If you support labor and the right to collectively bargain, you ARE supporting Minnesota,’” Walz said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of the work you do.”
Speaker of the House Rep. Melissa Hortman also addressed members before they set off on their appointments with legislators.
“At a time where the wealthy are enjoying the best of times they ever had, it is not the time to be cutting state government or to have the mentality of scarcity,” she said. “There is more than enough wealth in this state to take care of the people who need to be taken care of. Thank you for everything you’ve done to put us in a position to lead. We are ready for action.”
For some attendees, it was their first time meeting with their legislators. For others it was old hat. When MAPE members met with Rep. Jay Xiong (DFL-St. Paul) he emphasized the importance of hearing from constituents.
“Keep doing what you’re doing, because at the end of the day we need to hear from our constituents out there feeling the impact of our decisions,” Xiong said.
By early afternoon, the union masses had assembled in the Capitol rotunda for the first ever joint MAPE and AFSCME rally at the Capitol.
“Together we are 60,000 workers strong, committed to workplace democracy, a just economy that works for everyone, not just the few at the top, and we will stand in the way of those who want to underfund quality public services for all Minnesotans,” said MAPE Executive Director Lina Jamoul.
Walz again addressed the crowd, touting the quality of life and culture of democracy in Minnesota.
“It was the work that you all did lifting up the middle class and the right to collectively bargain for dignity in the workplace that lifted so many of our families up,” Walz said. “So many people who aren’t here and don’t know the work you do are living a better life with more dignity because of you being in this space.”
He voiced his support for affordable health care, quality education, living wages and a secure retirement.
“I am not just the governor of Minnesota. I am the organizer in chief of Minnesota,” Walz proclaimed.
Also speaking at the rally was a lineup of top DFL elected officials including Secretary of State Steve Simon, State Auditor Julie Blaha and Attorney General Keith Ellison.