by Bruce Yernberg
November 6th started as a moderately rainy day in Minnesota. From the rusty Iron Range to the soggy prairies of South West Minnesota; from the Red River Valley to the dusty bluffs of Red Wing, retired union seniors voted. A little rain doesn’t dampen retired union seniors’ spirits.
Retired union seniors from the Minnesota State Retiree Council, AFL-CIO have prepared for this day since January 2017. We attended Labor 2018 conferences on organizing for political power. We have trained in the art of messaging. We have written letters to the editors. We have had our souls searched by strategists to figure out what went wrong in 2016. We addressed and wrote endorsement messages using postcards while our arthritic fingers struggled to hold the pen. As retired union seniors we door knocked other union members until our worn-out knees turned to mush. And most important of all we made persuasive phone calls, literally thousands of them, to our senior brothers and sisters. Nobody persuades better than a retired union member. We are battle hardened. And at the end of each day we ate pizza…lots of days, lots of pizza.
Other RC seniors loaned out recycled re-bar to the candidates. RC sign crews installed campaign signs. Nobody does a better job of installing signs than retired trade union members.
About a week before the election we handed our skills over to the DFL. It was almost a pleasure to start over again with young vibrant staffers. We reenergized. Tens of thousands of phone calls were made in the remaining days. Almost all people we spoke with thanked us for our efforts. Door knocking houses closer together was a blessing. Candidates and their staffers worked alongside us. It was an intense effort. And we ate more pizza.
The credit for this effort must be shared. The leaders of this massive undertaking will credit the volunteers. That’s what a good leader does. But let’s not forget the union leaders who organized this effort. They are many and too numerous to mention. RC members especially appreciate Carol Freeman who worked tirelessly as Elections Coordinator day after day for months to coordinate the ‘herding of the cats’. The Area Labor Councils and Regional Labor Federations around the state deserve huge thanks for their efforts. Finally, the leadership of the Minnesota AFL-CIO and the unions that are affiliated, led us to a successful Labor 2018.
So how did Labor really do? We did great! We helped win all the Minnesota constitutional offices. We helped take back the State of Minnesota House of Representatives. We won the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts to take back the House of Representatives in DC giving democrats a majority.
Today we will pick up the signs. In December we will celebrate with our Christmas party. In January we will continue organizing internally and externally retired. And eat more pizza.