A new chapter for the labor movement

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler hosted a roundtable discussion today with workers who have been organizing around the country during the pandemic.

Hosts Secretary Walsh and President Shuler emphasized the historic time we are in, a time when many of the country’s leaders are supportive of unions and a strong working class movement. There’s even a White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. Each worker that spoke showed an inspiring energy in their fight for the labor movement, AND one of the workers at the roundtable was from Minnesota! 🌲 💪 🍺

Anders Bloomquist, who works at Fair State Brewing Co-op in Northeast Minneapolis, helped organized the workplace under UNITE HERE Local 17.

Workers at Fair State were part of a wave of hospitality and service workers that organized during the pandemic and George Floyd uprising. Learn more about the historic union drive (and collaborative crafting of delicious brews) here.

“We’re in an industry that is constantly reinventing itself and there’s always new locations and new opportunities for growth,” said Bloomquist. “Sometimes that’s not always visible to the average employee as far as when does this trickle down.”

Bloomquist talked about being designated an #essential worker, and about the working community’s reaction to the murder of George Floyd last May.

“After the murder of George Floyd, the uprising that followed afterward really started causing everyone to ask deep and important questions about how and to what fashion do we try and fight against systematic inequalities [and] fight against racial oppression,” said Bloomquist. “They could see inequalities and systemic problems right there that a union can play an incredible role in giving you a structure to fight for.”

Imperfect Foods grocery delivery driver Chris Jasinski, nurse Amy Waters, behavioral health worker Sharon Mclean, student researcher Elizabeth McCarthy, and organizer Sal Herrera also spoke about their efforts to improve working conditions. They talked about grievance procedures for harassment and discrimination as well as fighting against violations such as wage theft. And they also talked about necessary legislative changes like the PRO Act. Union locals from AFSCME, UFCW and IUPAT around the country were represented in the conversation, which you can view here.

P.S. If you want more people to know about how awesome workers are, please share this newsletter with coworkers, family, friends, and comrades! 😊

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We will write this next chapter together. We are each other’s harvest.