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Bringing the voice of workers to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, April 29, 2023

By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

This past January, I was elected to serve on the board of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank. As a Class B Director, I represent the voice of the public. My primary charge is to bring the voice of workers and the labor movement to the top decision-makers in one of our most impactful financial institutions.

The Federal Reserve Board and its regional banks have a long, storied history as the central banking system for the United States people. (Be sure to watch the musical Hamilton if you haven’t yet!)

And these last few months have been nothing short of remarkable with financial policy driving the news and headlines across all media. The Federal Reserve is working to try to balance its dual mandate, one, keeping inflation at or around two percent, and two, achieving full employment. The debate continues in Congress if these two mandates are the correct ones for the Federal Reserve.

As I prepare to fulfill my board service, I have been out talking to unions and workers about how the current economic conditions are impacting their industries and their daily lives.

Due to higher interest rates, workers are having a hard time accessing sustainable forms of

Chelsie Glaubitz

The most prevalent topic is that of rising interest rates. Recently, interest rates have seen significant jumps to combat the dramatic inflation we have been seeing. While inflation has ebbed a bit, the long-term and widespread impacts of the increased interest rates are being felt deeply by workers.

Due to the higher interest rates, industries such as construction and manufacturing are seeing slow-downs. And workers are having a hard time accessing sustainable forms of borrowing — leaving many out of the housing market and saddled with debt in less than desired investment vehicles. The Federal Reserve system will need to be very thoughtful about its next steps in order to avoid a protracted recession.

While we have seen some wage growth, especially for workers in the lowest-paid positions, those gains have not made up for the decades of depressed wages we have experienced. Workers would need significantly more wage growth to make up for those losses.

And while increasing wages have been in the headlines, we know from our own union contracts that employers are not coming to the table with wage proposals that reflect the sacrifices we have made during the pandemic. Several strikes throughout our region were narrowly averted only after long, drawn-out battles over wages.

Moving forward, I look forward to bringing the voice of workers and the stories of our members into these critical discussions. We can create an economy that works for ALL workers — we just need the courage and foresight to make it a reality.

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 chelsie@minneapolisunions.org.

See also:
Minneapolis Fed Board welcomes Glaubitz Gabiou and Vogel
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis news release, January 6, 2023

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