Jan 31 2022
For the past two years, working people were forced to deal with a global pandemic, social crises, & economic uncertainty. These challenges served to widen the existing racial & economic inequities in our state. Working people, no matter what we look like or where we live, deserve better. We need safe workplaces, equitable communities, jobs that can sustain our families, fully funded schools and public services, & a voice on the job. The Minnesota AFL-CIO’s 2022 legislative priorities represent both the first steps towards that vision & the Labor Movement’s shared values.
Bonding & Infrastructure
Thanks to the recently passed federal “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” our own state and local investments in roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure in our communities will mean federal matching funds to create tens of thousands of family- sustaining union construction jobs and give more Minnesotans with a voice at the jobsite.
Frontline Worker Pay
The state of Minnesota has yet to compensate workers who went above and beyond their normal duties to both directly fight the COVID-19 pandemic and keep our state running during the pandemic’s darkest days. Whether it was taking care of COVID patients, stocking grocery shelves, packing meat, caring for children, or driving a bus, Minnesotans relied on frontline workers like never before. Many of these workers were more likely to have lower wage jobs and are disproportionately people of color. While no amount of money can fully repay what they have been through, including quarantining without pay, Minnesota should acknowledge the contributions of all frontline workers by allocating $1 billion to give each worker a $1500 bonus.
Paid Family & Medical Leave
Even before the pandemic, workers have long needed the freedom to care for themselves and the people they love without having to sacrifice a paycheck. As the pandemic changed so much about work and home life, the need for and importance of taking time off work to care for a serious health condition, that of a loved one, or to bond with a new child has only increased. Since workers of color are far less likely to have access to paid leave through their employer than white workers, a paid family & medical leave program will also make a significant step towards racial justice in our state. An investment from the budget surplus will allow us to kickstart a program that can immediately begin delivering for workers.
Increase Workers Compensation Benefits
In 2020 the Minnesota AFL-CIO worked with lawmakers to create a presumption that first responders and healthcare workers who contract COVID-19 got it on the job. With the pandemic still underway and new variants continuing to complicate the fight, it’s time to both extend and expand the presumption to cover more workers.
Defend the Wage Theft Prevention Act
Many low-wage industries that disproportionately employ workers of color have far too often engaged in wage theft, failing to pay workers what they are legally owed. After years of organizing and speaking out, workers directly impacted by wage theft won the nation-leading 2019 Wage Theft Prevention Act. Ever since, special interests have been trying to weaken this groundbreaking law that is delivering for the workers who need it most. We will continue to fight to maintain these hard-won protections.