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Governor Walz, legislative leaders, address Building Trades rally

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, April 19, 2019

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

SAINT PAUL — Several unions including the Carpenters, Laborers, and Operating Engineers Local 49 jointly sponsored the Building Trades Day on the Hill at the Minnesota State Capitol April 3. About 1,000 union members attended. They met with the legislators from their home districts and closed out the day with a rally in the Capitol rotunda which was addressed by Governor Tim Walz and both Republican and DFL legislative leaders.

“The legislators are really influenced by what you said in their offices,” Jason George, Operating Engineers Local 49 business manager, told the union members at the rally. “By you showing up, it’s going to help us get jobs.”

Jason George
Jason George, business manager, Operating Engineers Local 49: “By you showing up, it's going to help us get jobs.”

The crowd heard expressions of bi-partisan support for issues concerning the Building Trades.

“We’ve got your back — I want you to hear that from me personally,” said Republican Paul Gazelka, the Minnesota Senate’s Majority Leader. “The Republican Party of our grandfathers is not the Republican Party of today.”

He cited current Republican support for proposed copper-nickel mining and for proposed pipelines. “Let’s just get it done,” he said.

Gazelka also expressed support for a $500 million bonding bill — less than one-half the $1.3 billion amount proposed by Governor Tim Walz. (The Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council has endorsed the Walz bonding proposal. See story.)

Gazelka added: “I am committed to work with the Governor and the Speaker [of the House] to ensure we have adequate transportation funding. That’s my commitment to you.”

Paul Gazelka
Senator Paul Gazelza, Senate Majority Leader: “We’ve got your back — I want you to hear that from me personally.”

DFLer Melissa Hortman, the Speaker of the Minnesota House, followed Gazelka to the podium and declared, “we are your grandfather’s DFL Party. We are committed to the working families of Minnesota.”

Hortman continued: “We’re for prevailing wage. We’re for pensions… We’re for the right to collectively bargain.”

Hortman drew a contrast with Republicans’ stance on transportation funding: “We’re not going to put hundreds of millions [of dollars] into transportation,” she said, “we’re planning billions.”

“Your being here at the State Capitol helps to move things forward,” Hortman said. She urged the Building Trades members to continue to contact state senators on issues like the transportation bill and the bonding bill. “Give them the courage they need,” she said.

Melissa Hortman
Melissa Hortman, Speaker of the House: “We are your grandfather’s DFL Party. We are committed to the working families of Minnesota.”

Hortman was followed to the podium by Representative Kurt Daudt, the Republican House leader. “I’ve been endorsed by the Building Trades every time I’ve run for election,” he declared. “I support your jobs without exception.”

Daudt took Governor Tim Walz to task for allowing the state Commerce Department to renew an appeal of approval for the Line 3 pipeline replacement proposed by Enbridge Energy.  “I’m proud to say Republicans in the State Capitol support 100 percent Line 3 and the union jobs that go with it,” Daudt said.

Daudt also affirmed support for roads and bridges, pipelines and mining. “We want to make sure you’ve got a lot of good jobs for a long time,” he said.

Kurt Daudt
Kurt Daudt, Republican House Leader: “I support your jobs without exception.”

Senator Tom Bakk, the DFL leader in the Minnesota Senate — and a former Carpenters union business agent —  was up next and proclaimed, “jobs are never a partisan issue. We all want you to go to work.”

“All you want to do in the morning is to pack a lunch bucket and go to work,” Bakk said. “It should be easy for Republicans and Democrats to help you… Nobody makes a bigger contribution than those of you who pack a lunch bucket and go out to build our state.”

With the DFL governor and legislators supporting a larger bonding bill, and calling for an increase in the gas tax to fund a comprehensive transportation bill, Bakk reminded the crowd: “Our industry, our employers, depend a lot on government spending.”

Tom Bakk
Tom Bakk, DFL Senate Leader: “Jobs are never a partisan issue. We all want you to go to work.”

Governor Tim Walz came next, using his speech to try to create common ground.
“Minnesota’s growth has been built on the backs of the people in this room,” he began. “We can come together bi-partisanly to rebuild Minnesota for the next century.”

But, Walz warned, “there are those who want to divide us.”

Jobs and the environment can go together, Walz maintained. He addressed current debates about pipelines and mining: “We will always follow the science, we will always follow the law, and then do our job to build Minnesota.”

Walz, who is a former teacher and Education Minnesota union member, added: “there can be a helluva lot of jobs, but if they’re not part of organized labor,” what kind of jobs will they be?

Walz shared a story from the 2018 campaign trail, when he was asked if his background as a union member meant he would choose supporting unions over supporting the people of Minnesota.

He repeated his reply: “If you’re standing with people in unions, you are standing with Minnesota.”

Tim Walz
Governor Tim Walz:“We can come together bi-partisanly to rebuild Minnesota for the next century.”

Tim Walz
Governor Walz addresses the April 3 Building Trades rally.

About 1,000 members of Building Trades unions attended the April 3 Day on the Hill.


Walz proposes $1.3 billion infrastructre plan
(Minneapolis Labor Review, 3-22-19)

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