Chauvin sentenced, pandemic bonus for essential workers, and more

A lot is happening in Minnesota news.

A year and one month since Derek Chauvin was filmed on video murdering George Floyd, family members gave impact statements during Derek Chauvin’s sentencing last Friday. Floyd’s family asked for the maximum penalty to be imposed. While Judge Peter Cahill sentenced Chauvin to 22 and a half years, which was not the maximum, the court did acknowledge Chauvin’s cruelty and abuse of authority.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison released a statement following the sentencing calling for action:

“At this historic moment, there is so much legislation around the country — in city councils, county boards, state legislatures, and Congress — that is still waiting to be passed. If these bills were passed, they would make deaths at the hands of law enforcement less likely, would improve police-community relations, would restore trust and therefore cooperation, would improve the lives of police officers who want to protect and serve, and would make everyone safer. Every one of these bills — at every level of government — is critical for helping our families, communities, and country heal.”

  • Walker Orenstein (@walkerorenstein) from MinnPost breaks down the public safety legislation that Minnesota lawmakers are looking to pass, which includes police reform.

  • TIME published an article and video on the death of Terrence Franklin in 2013, who was shot and killed by Minneapolis police. A video caught by a neighbor contradicts statements told by MPD, and Franklin’s family hopes the case will be reopened for investigation.

Lawmakers passed a Health and Human Services budget that provides over $350 million in state and federal funding over the next four years for services for seniors and people with disabilities. The funds will cover the contract that members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and the State of Minnesota reached in January.

"With the higher pay coming from this contract, I can make sure myself and my client have more of the things we need to get by," said Marty Eleby, a 25-year home care worker from Minneapolis, in a press release. "So many Minnesotans depend on home care workers to survive, get the treatment they need to stay at home and just to have company so they aren't alone. Seeing the wage floor go up to $15.25 and getting more benefits & training will help make sure we have enough caregivers who will do this work to ensure our clients get the care they deserve.”

Lawmakers have also agreed on a $250 million pandemic bonus to be awarded to the state’s essential workers.

Although a bill has yet to be passed, a few details about the bonus program have been revealed. According to MPR, a panel of nine will try to decide eligibility and award level by Labor Day.

A coalition of groups, including SEIU, the Minnesota Nurses Association, Education Minnesota, We Make MN, AFSCME Council 65, Unidos MN, CTUL, the Awood Center, the AFL-CIO and others, are pushing lawmakers to ensure the process gives justice to workers. A few goals were included in a press release:

  • The working group must ensure that this money is easily accessible by the frontline, essential workers who have earned it through their sacrifices for us during this pandemic.

  • The working group must ensure what workers get is proportional to that sacrifice to help make these essential workers whole.

  • The working group must ensure that workers have a seat at the table in this decision-making process and that money gets into the hands of workers as soon as possible.

Laborer’s International Union of North America Minnesota & North Dakota president Joel Smith called the Minnesota Public Utility Commission’s decision to reaffirm Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline permits a win for Minnesota:

“Northern Minnesota’s economy struggled before COVID, and today faces a full-scale depression with mines and plants shutting down and thousands out of work, including many of our members,” said Smith in a press release. “Construction of Line 3 will provide a lifeline for thousands of area workers and businesses. We thank Chair Sieben and the Commissioners for recognizing the need to move this critical infrastructure project forward.”

Darren Thompson reports in Native News Online why Line 3 remains a target for environmental activists and water protectors, even though the Biden administration is defending the project.

SCOTUS + labor

June is the month the Supreme Court hands down its decisions and publishes opinions. Below are a few decisions we’ve been waiting on:

🏀 NCAA v. Alston: College sports are considered amateur sports, which means that players don’t get compensated for their athletic labor. In this ruling, SCOTUS unanimously sided with athletes against some of NCAA’s amateurism rules, saying the NCAA can’t prevent colleges from providing players with educational benefits. Check out SCOTUSblog’s TikTok explainer.

🍓 Cedar Point v. Hassid: Affirming property rights in a blow to organized labor, the Supreme Court said that a regulation requiring agricultural employers to allow union organizers onto their property to speak with workers, or a “right to access,” violates the 5th Amendment. Organizers from United Farm Workers sought access to property in California so they could talk to workers. The growers who owned the property filed a lawsuit alleging the access constitutes an uncompensated taking of property, or a per se physical taking. Read: important legal and historical context from Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) in Slate.

🍫 Nestle v. Doe: Companies Nestle and Cargill have been accused of violating human rights in their use of farms that use child slave labor to produce cocoa. The Supreme Court sided with the companies, saying that the defendants didn’t have enough connection to the United States. In rulings involving overseas human rights violations, there needs to be a strong connection to the US under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), however, no case against corporations involving ATS has resulted in favor of plaintiffs.

Stories of survival

  • Pop star and cultural icon Britney Spears testified last week in an effort to petition an end to her conservatorship, or the appointment of a legal guardian to control one’s finances and daily life. Read: Spears testimony in Variety in which she describes the trauma and abuse she experienced and asks the court for personal autonomy. Read: the damaging role of media coverage of women in crisis and what constitutes “work” in The Atlantic. Also: Sara Luterman (@slooterman) writes in The Nation about why we should abolish conservatorships.

  • Listen: NPR reporter Lulu Garcia-Navarro (@lourdesgnavarro) interviews Susana Alvarez, a survivor from the condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida. Instead of focusing on the traumatic aspects of the disaster, Garcia-Navarro’s empathetic approach helps Alvarez process her grief.

  • Read: Workday Minnesota publishes an update on COVID-19 numbers and union vaccination efforts from the Minneapolis Labor Review. The pandemic isn’t over yet!

Although rain has arrived, the drought continues. We are each other’s harvest.