By Tom Beer
With the primaries now over, we can focus on an important but under the radar issue. Mounting debt threatens family freedoms. Many seniors carry the school debt of their children and grand-children. An explosion of Federal debt passed last fall as part of the federal tax bill undermines Medicare and Social Security. Mounting debt challenges family security for thousands of Minnesotans.
In an arc from Coon Rapids and Brooklyn Park to Bloomington and Edina, the 3rd Congressional District has been trending blue for some time. Although Hilary Clinton won the district in 2016, so did Congressman Eric Paulsen. Over 6,500 regular union members and households registered to vote in the district didn’t vote in the election. With nearly seventy thousand registered union voters and households, and almost twelve thousand union retirees and age 65 voters, the 3rd CD is ripe for a leadership change in Congress.
Increasing the vote in union dense communities will help the entire labor ticket in November. A pro-union governor and state house will benefit from efforts focused on union family issues.
The Minneapolis Regional Retiree Council, AFL-CIO has mounted a campaign to educate and activate its members and senior voters in the 3rd CD concerning the threat of rising debt.
Over a year ago, we worked with Senator Franken’s office to compile retiree and family stories of how earned benefits improved lives. Our Retiree Council has used the informative ‘What does the future hold for Social Security and Medicare?’ slide presentation at union and community meetings, churches and civic groups. Aware that the Trump/Republican tax bill puts us on a collision course with federal debt, our members rallied at Representative Paulsen’s office last November on the day he voted for the devastating tax measure. Wrote Susan Du of City Pages, “As Rep. Eric Paulsen votes for tax bill, his staffer stonewalls concerned seniors.”
A twenty-member planning committee is leading the effort to expand our 3rd CD educational and action activities as the November elections near. Twice a month day time phone banks engage the members of the Mineapolis Retiree Council’s nineteen affiliated unions. Likewise, post card writing sessions are regularly held to reach registered union voters. Plans are being made to help the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation with door knock activity, and social media including Face Book and the MN AFL-CIO Labor Update will be part of our 3rd District campaign.