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MFT Local 59’s Louise Sundin to serve as MRLF interim president

From the Minneapolis Labor Review
October 23, 2015

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS —Longtime labor leader Louise Sundin became interim president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation October 13.

Sundin is a former president of Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59 and had been serving as the MRLF’s executive vice president.

Under the MRLF bylaws, Sundin is filling the vacancy in the president’s office created when Bill McCarthy, MRLF president since 2002, resigned his position October 13 and was sworn in as president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO.

Sundin will serve as interim MRLF president through the remainder of McCarthy’s term, which expires in February 2016.

Nominations for all MRLF officers and executive board members for a four-year term will take place at the December 9, 2015 MRLF delegate meeting. Elections will follow at the January 13, 2016 MRLF delegate meeting.

To contact MRLF Interim President Louise Sundin, call 612-321-5670 or e-mail sundin@minneapolisunions.org.
Louise Sundin chairs her first MRLF delegate meeting as MRLF interim president October 14.  

Sundin is a life-long Minneapolis resident and lives now in the same southwest Minneapolis house in which she grew up.

“Both my mom and dad were union teachers in the Minneapolis Public Schools,” she said. In addition, her father worked nights as an IAM union machinist. “He worked full-time as a teacher and full-time as a machinist at night.”

Her grandfather was a union railroad worker and grievance committee chair on the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway.

“When you grow up with a union family background, it’s in your blood,” Sundin said.

“I was a union member as a student teacher, before I got my [teaching] license,” she reported.

Sundin worked 30 years as an English teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools, including time at Ramsey Junior High, Central High School, and Southwest High School.

As a young teacher, she participated in the landmark 1970 Minneapolis teachers strike, enthusiastically walking extra picket duty.

Early on in her union activism, Sundin ran to become a delegate from MFT to the Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council (the forerunner to the MRLF).

“Being a CLUC delegate was the first election I ever won in my career,” Sundin said. “That was the first thing I wanted to do — be involved in the labor movement.”

Sundin won many other elections, serving 22 years as president of MFT Local 59 and 25 years as a national vice president of the American Federation of Teachers.

As president of MFT Local 59, Sundin negotiated 11 contracts and developed a national reputation as an innovator and progressive education reform leader.

She is a founder of TURN — the Teacher Union Reform Network, whose members lead a progressive agenda in their school districts nationwide.

Sundin currently serves as a trustee of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system.

“I haven’t technically retired from anything — I just keep going because of my passion for education and the labor movement,” Sundin said.

“I’ve always referred to the labor movement as the ‘gentle giant’ that over the last 100 years has used its strength and its smarts to advocate as much for workers who weren’t union members as for those who were,” she said, citing union-won advances like child labor laws, minimum wage, workers compensation, unemployment compensation, and health and safety laws. “Those cover everybody,”she noted.

“We’ve been lucky in Minneapolis and Minnesota to have great labor leaders we could be proud of like Dave Roe — there never was anyone better,” Sundin said. “I learned so much from him including the ethical use of power and the heart of the labor movement as well as the power of collective strength.”

To contact MRLF Interim President Louise Sundin, call 612-321-5670 or e-mail sundin@minneapolisunions.org.