In Minnesota, the Democrats won back both the state House and Senate by pretty good margins. This was our #1 focus for the year, and we called all of our members that lived in targeted legislative districts to communicate our endorsements to them. In all but a couple of the 30 or so races we targeted our endorsed candidates won. In some cases, they didn’t win by more than 100 votes, so our votes were critical.
What does this mean for 49ers in Minnesota?
Right To Work is dead in this state for at least 4 years. This doesn’t mean those that are pushing it will give up, so we still need to educate ourselves and our fellow 49ers on this issue, but we will not have to face this challenge for a while and that is great news for all workers in Minnesota Prevailing Wage is safe in Minnesota for at least 4 years. Instead of defending against attempts to gut prevailing wage we can start having conversations about how to improve it – this is great news for construction workers.
JOBS – there will be a focus on infrastructure jobs, and bonding projects for the next 2 years – the new DFL majorities and the Governor strongly support infrastructure and construction jobs, they proved that to us the last two years and we look forward to working with them to do even more on this front now that they are in power
There will be some challenges as well. Environmentalists will be excited to try to bring new constraints to mining up north and also sand mining in the south; we will have to be prepared to win those arguments to make sure that we can create the jobs that those industries bring. We are already working on a legislative strategy that will maximize job growth while improving the climate for construction workers in this state.
On the local level, we saw a mixed bag. A lot of our endorsed candidates, 60%, won election to school board, county board or city council. One of the things I am personally most happy about it that Local 49 member Mike Holden won his election for school board in International Falls. Mike will represent his community with honor, and we here at Local 49 are very proud of him for stepping up to lead. We had some setbacks in other areas, particularly Anoka County. We will have to work hard to make sure that our members that work there and live there have a voice with the new commissioners.
What about 49ers in the Dakotas?
In the Dakotas it was mostly a bad night with one victory that we will save for the end. Unfortunately, Local 49 member and candidate for North Dakota State Senate Cole Uecker lost his election. Cole ran a great race, he worked extremely hard and we couldn’t be prouder of him for being willing to put himself out there to serve his community. About half the candidates we endorsed for North Dakota state legislature lost which was unfortunate. Also disappointing were the defeats of Governor Candidate Ryan Taylor and Congressional Candidate Pam Gulleson. Both fought hard, but couldn’t overcome the strong Republican tilt of North Dakota. In South Dakota it was a similar story as endorsed candidate Matt Verilek lost his bid for Congress.
The one bright spot in the Dakotas was the upset win of North Dakota Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp. Heidi won by less than 1 percent in a razor thin election. We worked hard for Heidi, and are so proud to have been a part of supporting her. She will do a tremendous job for construction workers in North Dakota and we look forward to working with her.
Also in Minnesota...
Finally let me say a quick word about the much talked about endorsement of Congressman Chip Cravaack in northern Minnesota. As you all know, Congressman Cravaack lost his re-election bid. We congratulate Congressman Rick Nolan for his strong showing and we very much look forward to working with him. Congressman Nolan is first and foremost a good man, and he is also someone that will fight hard every day for the hard working construction men and women in his district.
As we talked about the night in Duluth when we voted to endorse Congressman Cravaack, this was about more than just his campaign. It was about showing Republicans, and any candidate for office, that if they make efforts to support our core issues like Prevailing Wage, PLAs, and JOBS, we will make an effort to support them. Even when it isn’t popular, even when we very much like their opponent, and even when it is extremely difficult. I hope, in fact I know, that other candidates for office from both sides of the aisle had a lot of respect for our decision even though they might not have agreed with it. But the campaign is over, it is time to move on, and we will do our best to build our relationship with Congressman Nolan and help him in any way we can to better the lives of construction workers everywhere.
Where We Go From Here
The work of the election is over, but the work to ensure that we have jobs and a strong union continues. I won’t get into a lot of detail just yet, but we will spend the next month or so formulating a legislative strategy that will maximize construction job growth and improve the lives of construction workers. We will be at the forefront of advocating for infrastructure investments of all kinds, statewide investments that create jobs for private sector construction workers, and local investments that create jobs for our public sector construction workers.
The number one focus and the word you will hear from us the most is – JOBS.
JOBS are the answer to the budget problem facing the state. JOBS are the answer to education funding needs. JOBS are the answer to every major problem that we face in this nation. And we will be laser focused on making sure that the newly elected majorities stay laser focused on the real reason people voted them into power – JOBS.
There will be temptation to overreach, to put together a Christmas list of things that we have always dreamed of doing. We will not be among the many groups that will go this route. We will take a responsible, measured, and reasonable approach and we will remain laser focused on basic things that will improve the lives of construction workers, which first and foremost means JOB creation.
We are committed to bi-partisan politics, and we will work with those that are interested in moving Minnesota forward. We will work hard to win bi-partisan support for the initiatives that we do bring forward. We believe that the new DFL majorities and Governor Dayton will also take that approach, and we will strongly support them in it.
We are not going to ignore the Republican minorities. We will continue to work with them, to educate their members on our issues, and to build new relationships while strengthening existing ones. This work is critical now more than ever, because if we are going to truly move this state forward and get serious about doing big important things, we will need to work across party lines.
We will be having a lobby day again this year. I will get that out to people as soon as we set the date. We will need to be engaged, there will be challenges this session just like any other. I thank you for all of your efforts, and I look forward to the next years we can spend working on job creation instead of defending ourselves against attacks.