Governor Walz: ‘Vote like the right to collective bargaining is on the ballot’
Governor Tim Walz addressing the Minnesota AFL-CIO convention: “The one thing I want union members in Minnesota to know is, as long as I am governor, you do not have to spend one second worrying about a piece of anti-union legislation crossing my desk.”
Adapted from the Minneapolis Labor Review, October 22, 2022
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
SAINT PAUL — Governor Tim Walz addressed the final day of the Minnesota AFL-CIO convention September 20, highlighting the strong results of his administration and pointing out the stakes in the 2022 election as he seeks a second term to lead the state.
“Minnesota’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the country,” Walz said. “We have the lowest unemployment rate of any state in the history of the country. We have the highest labor participation rate… We’re starting to see wages rise and we’re starting to make sure that middle-class Minnesotans are feeling more secure.”
Walz, a former high school teacher and teachers union member, celebrated the solidarity both in the room and also displayed by the labor movement during the recent nurses’ strike — public employees, building trades workers and nurses all standing together.
Without this solidarity, he said, “they will pick us off, one by one.”
“We’re not going the way of Iowa. We’re not going the way of Wisconsin,” he said, referencing the two neighboring states which enacted anti-union legislation in recent years.
The Minnesota AFL-CIO has endorsed DFLer Walz and his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, for re-election.
Walz promised: “The one thing I want union members in Minnesota to know is, as long as I am governor, you do not have to spend one second worrying about a piece of anti-union legislation crossing my desk.”
“We are an island of progressive values, that values work, that values our communities, that values fair play, that values science — for goodness sakes — all of those things,” Walz said.
Walz has come under attack from his Republican opponent for the public health measures his administration implemented to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thanks to those actions, however, Minnesota avoided the higher death tolls elsewhere — even though that meant disruption to work and school. Walz emphatically declared: “But you know what? Standing back and letting Minnesotans die during a pandemic wasn’t acceptable.”
Walz poked fun at his critics. “It’s not that damned hard to point out a problem,” he said. “They’re like the people driving down the street pointing out a fire. No sh-t. You lit the fire. You lit the fire. We’re putting out the fire.”
Walz noted the election was some 50 days away. “Vote like the right to collective bargaining is on the ballot— because it is. Vote like your pension is on the ballot — because it is. Vote like health care and access to paid family and medical leave is on the ballot — because it is. Vote like you care about women and you trust them to make their own healthcare decisions.”
“Elections are a means to an end,” Walz emphasized. “This is not about whether Peggy Flanagan and Tim Walz get re-elected.”
Walz continued: “We have to get re-elected to make sure workers rights are protected, to make sure women’s rights are protected, to make sure voting rights are protected.”
Applause and cheers punctuated Walz’s remarks throughout his speech.
Wrapping up, Walz urged union members: “Let’s get out there! Let’s organize! Let’s get our members. Let’s do the work that needs do be done. All for a better Minnesota. And you know what? We can sleep when we’re dead. So let’s get it done!”