Last night was a victory for labor. At the DFL Election Party at the Intercontinental Riverside Hotel in St.Paul, people were energetic and thrilled with election results. “To have a governor that understands labor is refreshing,” said Jeff Miller, who’s been a member of the carpenter’s union for 34 years. Miller said, “It’s a wonderful thing to see people empower labor again.”
Tim Walz was the hero of the night for labor. Walz, 54, is a congressman from southern Minnesota who served 24 years in the national guard. He’s also an award-winning teacher. Supporters close to the campaign wore red and black flannels, while many union members wore their union attire and held signs supporting the governor. “We’re fortunate to have a person like that,” said Rick Ramberg, who’s been an IBEW-292 for 40 years.
The Walz campaign was aided heavily by labor volunteers. Somewhere between 1200-1500 volunteers knocked on doors, sent text messages, and rallied for Walz and Flanagan. Many union members supported Walz for opposing “right-to-work,” advocating for prevailing wages and collective bargaining. “It’s wonderful to have a union member as governor,” said Brad Lehto, secretary treasurer of the local AFL-CIO chapter, “Historic, actually.”
Besides the Walz victory, the night was an overall success for labor. Many union members felt positive as the results rolled in and left many “confident about everything.”
Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy issued the following statement responding to the 2018 election results
“Our volunteer-driven member to member political campaign, the largest and most strategic in Minnesota AFL-CIO history, reached tens of thousands of union members at their worksites, at their homes, on their phones, in their mailboxes, and on social media.
Union members knew that our very freedom to join together was on the ballot this year and made sure our voices were heard loud and clear.
The 2018 election also sent a record number of Labor-endorsed union members and retirees into public office including Governor-elect Tim Walz, Auditor-elect & former MN AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Julie Blaha, and 22 members to the Minnesota House."
Working people also earned victories across the United States.
Voters in Missouri and Arkansas overwhelming approved ballot measures that will raise their state’s minimum wage over the next several years, lifting pay for a combined 1 million workers.
In Missouri, 62 percent of voters elected to raise the state minimum wage from its current $7.85 to $12 an hour in 2023. In Arkansas, 68 percent of voters supported a measure that will raise the state minimum wage to $11 per hour in 2021 from its current value of $8.50.
According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), “Updating key labor standards, like the minimum wage, is critical if policymakers want to do something about the enormous stagnation in wages that has plagued the country for decades. The recent modest uptick in wage growth is not nearly enough to undo the damage that has been done over the past 70 years. Since the mid-1970s, as the U.S. economy has grown and productivity has risen, hourly pay has barely budged after adjusting for inflation.”
In neighboring Wisconsin, Scott Walker was defeated prompting the following statement from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: