2023 legislative session: It’s time to dream of what’s possible
From the Minneapolis Labor Review, December 17, 2022
By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation
It’s time to dream of what’s possible! Tuesday, January 3, the Minnesota legislature will convene with working family majorities in the House and Senate and our labor-endorsed executive branch. We haven’t had this opportunity since 2013-2014, when we passed historic organizing legislation, invested in all-day kindergarten, and voted to raise the state’s minimum wage.
We now have the opportunity to expand economic opportunities and empower workers’ voices in the workplace. In the coming months, you are going to see unions and allies all across the state putting our values to work during the 2023 state legislative session.
One area of major concern is going to be worksite safety. As the pandemic has shown, employers are ill-prepared to support and protect their very own employees. Not only did they provide sub-par personal protective equipment at the onset of the pandemic, they also pushed workers in some industries to a breakneck speed to keep product moving.
Today, we continue to see employers understaffing critical industries to the detriment of the safety of workers and the general public.
In response, we will be seeking policies to strengthen OSHA and to raise minimum labor standards across specific industries, particularly in areas like healthcare, warehousing, meatpacking, rail transportation, and refinery work — just to name a few.
With the projected $17 billion state budget surplus, we have the opportunity to make generational investments in good jobs.
The new balance of power at the state capitol also allows us to expand workers’ access to organizing rights. We can lift bans on collective bargaining in specific industries, expand prevailing wage investments, tackle outsourcing of public sector jobs and pro-actively ban “Right to Work” policies. We also can put new labor standards in place in growing industries like clean energy to encourage family supporting wages and jobs.
Minnesota now can lead on innovative strategies to further broader economic and social justice. For too long, our efforts to advance racial equity initiatives throughout this state have faltered. We can improve safety for immigrant workers. We can address systemic racism as a barrier to employment and accumulation of wealth. We can invest in proven solutions to give voice to those most hurt by our racial disparities. We can do this by coming together, regardless of our background, to build a better future for everyone.
And of course, we have the opportunity to make generational investments in good jobs — especially given the new projection for a $17 billion state budget surplus. From fully-funding public education, to passing critical infrastructure investments, to addressing fairer taxes for all working families, we can invest in our communities.
Decades from now, I hope to look back on this moment with all of you as a pivotal moment in labor history.
Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou was re-elected December 11, 2019 to a second four-year term as president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.
Contact MRLF president Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou at 612-321-5670 or firstname.lastname@example.org.