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Finally a deal for frontline worker bonus pay
Lawmakers finally figured out bonus pay alongside unemployment insurance. Also: reflect on Workers Memorial Day, and meet the first union Starbucks in Minnesota.
💰 A promise, doubled: $500 million for frontline workers in Minnesota
So many frontline workers testified in front of the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group and have been speaking out since that group ended meetings last year without a unified proposal. The group missed their deadline because they were split on recommendations: the proposal by the GOP Karens narrowed eligibility while the proposal by the DFL included more workers. (Thanks for remembering what the L stands for in DFL!)
Peter Callaghan (@CallaghanPeter) from MinnPost hosted a discussion at the MinnPost Festival yesterday, where Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller and House Speaker Melissa Hortman revealed they reached an agreement. They officially announced the deal yesterday and may have it on Governor Walz’s desk today.
Read the story here, watch the discussion below.
The deal includes $2.7 billion for the unemployment insurance fund and $500 million for frontline worker bonus pay, doubling the original $250 million. Around 667,000 workers will receive checks of $750. Eligibility will be determined by the House.
Additionally, Representative Emma Greenman was able to add an amendment to the UI bill that will end the exclusion of hourly school workers from receiving unemployment!
I haven’t seen any details yet on the process and when folks will be able to apply and can expect checks. Congratulations to the workers and organizers who spent time and energy speaking up and fighting for this recognition. It won’t replace what workers lost and sacrificed, and it doesn’t serve as a long-term solution to address their working conditions, but it will help to pay a few bills.
☕ We have the first union Starbucks in MN!
Congratulations to the Starbucks workers at the St. Paul Snelling location on winning their union election 14-1!
Marshall Steele, who works at the St. Paul location, offered their take on unionizing for this piece I wrote on why baristas are unionizing.
🕯️ Honoring the lives of tradespeople
Yesterday, building trades workers clad in hard hats and neon vests gathered in community at the Workers Memorial Garden on the state capitol grounds as the grinding sound of construction on nearby bridges rang in the background. They celebrated Workers Memorial Day and honored the lives of workers who died on the job in the past year, as well as the passing of a longtime union leader.
I finally met Michael Moore (@unionadvocate) from the St. Paul Union Advocate at the ceremony, and he wrote an excellent story on the event.
“This memorial is dedicated to all Minnesotans that have given their lives in the workplace.”
“This is not just any ground. This ground is precious. This place is sacred. This is right where this monument should be.” –Vice President of the United States Walter Mondale
The panel on the right includes an excerpt of Freedom’s Plow by Langston Hughes:
“Free hands and slave hands,
indentured hands, adventurous hands
white hands and black hands
held the plow handles
axe handles, hammer handles
launched the boats and whipped the horses
that fed and housed and moved America
thus together through labor,
all these hands made America”
Four disasters are included on the monument: the 1878 Washburn Mill Fire, the 1894 fire in Hinckley, the 1924 Cuyuna Range Mine flood, and the 1975 sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Check out this video about the memorial.
📖 Add this to your book list
Earlier in April, East Side Freedom Library hosted a talk with Daisy Pitkin and members of the local labor movement. Pitkin is a Macalester College grad who wrote On the Line: A Story of Class, Solidarity, and Two Women’s Epic Fight to Build a Union. She’s now helping to organize Starbucks workers with Workers United!
The book consists of letters written to Alma, the immigrant worker-leader she organized with at a laundry factory. The talk includes reflections on the role of organizers and organizing culture, as well as the power of storytelling, language, and agitation. Pitkin even uses moths as an extended metaphor! 💡
Also, I loved Pitkin’s recent piece, The Gospel of Organizing published in The Baffler. Pitkin writes about organizing library workers, referencing the history around union-buster robber baron Andrew Carnegie’s essay “The Gospel of Wealth.”
Hope to see you at the May Day Festival on Sunday! We are each other’s harvest.