Jul 1 2021
On the final day to avert a government shutdown, the Minnesota Legislature finalized the state’s two-year budget.
“After six long months, the Minnesota Legislature has finally passed a budget that begins to help working people recover from the pandemic and invests in all our communities and schools,” said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy. “These gains are thanks to the tireless efforts from working Minnesotans who, in the face of constant opposition from the Republican-controlled Senate, advocated for their fellow workers over the past year. However, these continued down to the wire sessions, that result in state employees receiving layoff notices, need to end.”
Essential Worker Pay a First Step
In addressing the $250 million lawmakers designated for the essential workers who kept Minnesota running during the pandemic, Minnesota’s Labor movement is making it clear this action should be viewed as a first step. More funding is needed to provide meaningful compensation for essential workers.
“Countless working Minnesotans across multiple sectors and in every corner of our state put themselves in harm’s way for more than a year, many going without pay when forced to quarantine at home,” McCarthy added. “These workers, many of whom continue to face racial and economic disparities on top of pandemic stress, need to be made whole for the extraordinary work they do and the sacrifices they made.”
Labor Protects Wage Theft Law
Despite attempts from Republicans to weaken Minnesota’s strongest in the nation law that protects workers from wage theft, Governor Walz and DFLers steadfastly worked with Minnesota’s Labor Movement to successfully defend a law that is delivering justice.
Republicans Block Many Worker Initiatives, including Worker Safety, Paid Leave, and Tax Justice
Senate Republicans, despite previously pledging their support, killed an effort to increase safety at Minnesota’s oil refineries by requiring maintenance workers to have apprenticeship training.
“Minnesota’s Labor Movement will work with lawmakers from any political party who want to support working people, but actions matter more than words,” McCarthy said. “Senate Republicans showed exactly where they stand when forced to choose between working Minnesotans and big corporate oil companies.”
Not even a global pandemic that underscored how much we need our families could move the GOP-controlled Senate to hold a single committee hearing on a proposal to create a paid family and medical leave insurance program.
While working people sacrificed during the pandemic, the richest Minnesotans and big corporations became richer. Governor Walz and DFLers recognized this reality and proposed budgets that would have significantly invested in working Minnesotans by ensuring those who have benefitted pay their fair share in taxes. Republicans soundly rejected even modest tax increases.
“In the fight to make Minnesota a more just and equitable state, Republicans continue to be a barrier to progress,” said McCarthy. “Working Minnesotans will hold them accountable if they continue blocking progress.”