Labor and community organizations who have been aligning for years are escalating their fights at the same time.

by Amie Stager, Workday

This spring, thousands of workers across Minnesota will have expired contracts all at the same time. Among them are healthcare workers, janitors, security officers, airport workers, construction workers, educators, education support professionals, and public workers. Organizers within Minnesota’s labor movement are making use of this unique moment to exert joint pressure on employers across sectors to meet workers’ demands.

Over the past decade, unions and community groups in Minnesota have been creating partnerships with a shared analysis of power, and holding employers and leaders accountable, all while building an alignment strategy that they say grows their organizations and wins more for their members. It’s culminating in a joint escalation, with a deadline of March 2 kicking off a week of action. At that time, potentially six unions will have expired contracts at once, meaning they would legally be allowed to strike at the same time, and allied community groups, workers centers, and unions have agreed to push social demands. On February 3, SEIU Local 26, representing more than 8000 essential workers, voted to authorize an unfair labor practice strike at any time during ongoing negotiations. Metro Transit drivers with ATU Local 1005, whose members authorized a strike last September, have yet to vote on a tentative agreement offered on February 7. The Saint Paul Federation of Educators Local 28 (SPFE) has also scheduled a strike authorization vote for February 15.

strike signs lying on the ground

These unions and community groups have coordinated specific demands addressing various community needs under the four tenets of dignified work, good schools, stable housing, and a livable planet. The unions and groups include SEIU Local 26, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos En La Lucha (CTUL), Inquilinxs Unidxs Por Justicia, SEIU Local 284, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59 (MFT), SPFE, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and Iowa, Laborers Local 363, and ATU Local 1005. Allied unions and groups standing in solidarity include Minnesota AFL CIO, Minneapolis Uber and Lyft Association, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, UNITE HERE Local 17, Wildcat Cabaret, AFSCME Local 3800, and CWA 7250.

Under the banner of “dignified work,” workers are demanding higher wages that keep up with inflation, retirement pensions, safe working conditions, healthcare access, reduced racial and gender pay gaps, and a Labor Standards Board. for the city of Minneapolis. The call for “good schools” includes higher pay for educators and their support staff and more community resources. Urging “stable housing,” workers are insisting on community-owned social housing, rent stabilization, closing racial home ownership gaps, and holding developers accountable. “Livable planet” demands include clean air and water and sustainable transit and infrastructure. A common thread between these demands is holding corporations accountable for things like tax cuts and loopholes and climate impacts.

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