How Minnesota Workers and Activists Are Building a New Labor Movement?


Minnesota is witnessing a historic wave of labor action as thousands of workers from various sectors and community groups join forces to demand dignity, justice, and a better future for themselves and their communities. This is not a coincidence, but the result of a strategic alignment of major networks of unions and community groups that have been working together for more than a decade to leverage their collective power.


A March 2 Deadline for a Common Agenda

The catalyst for this unprecedented mobilization was a March 2 deadline that many unions and community groups set for their contract negotiations, strike votes, and campaigns around four key issues: dignified work, stable housing, a livable planet, and good schools. By aligning their timelines and demands, they hoped to maximize their leverage and meet collectively determined community demands.

Before March 2, 15,000 workers had taken strike votes, and though some of them have settled, some 10,000 may still walk off the job this week. They are members of groups including SEIU Local 26, St. Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE), SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1005, CTUL, Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia, Minnesota Federation of Teachers (MFT) Local 59, LIUNA Local 363, and Minnesota AFL-CIO, UNITE HERE Local 17, AFSCME Local 3800, CWA Local 7250, Unidos, ISAIAH, and many more.

They are also joined by community groups organizing around housing and climate justice, such as Renters United for Justice, TakeAction Minnesota, and MN350. Together, they have launched a rolling wave of action that will include street protests, art and theater events, and possibly thousands of workers on strike.

A Decade of Relationship Building and Movement Building

This collective effort is the culmination of years of relationship-building and movement-building among unions and community groups in the Twin Cities. Many of them have collaborated on various campaigns and actions, such as the Fight for $15, the Black Lives Matter protests, the rent control ballot initiative, and the Green New Deal resolution.

They have also learned from each other’s struggles and successes, such as the retail janitors who won union recognition and fair contracts after years of organizing with the support of CTUL, a worker center that fights for low-wage workers of color. Or the teachers who won a landmark contract in 2018 that included funding for restorative practices, ethnic studies, and mental health services after building a broad coalition with students, parents, and community groups.

These experiences have shown them the power of solidarity and the importance of connecting their issues and demands to a larger vision of social and economic justice. They have also shown them the need to think strategically and build for the long term while seizing the opportunities of the present moment.

A Model for the Working Class Everywhere

What is happening in the Twin Cities could be a powerful model for the working class everywhere: a movement ecosystem whose members show up in deep solidarity across differences, that thinks strategically and builds for the long term while maximizing its current power, and that fights for concrete wins while advancing a transformative agenda.

Andrea Villanueva, a retail janitor and member of SEIU Local 26, said after reaching a tentative agreement with her employer, “We are not just fighting for ourselves; we are fighting for our whole community. We are fighting for a better world for everyone.”

By Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented junior content and news writer at Scope Sweep. With a passion for writing and a dedication to delivering high-quality content, Andrea has quickly established herself as a valuable contributor to the team. Graduating from the prestigious University of Sydney, she brings a strong academic foundation and a keen eye for detail to her work. Andrea's articles cover a wide range of topics, from breaking news to informative features, ensuring that readers are well-informed and engaged. With her ability to research and present information in a clear and concise manner, Andrea Wilson is committed to providing readers with accurate and captivating content. Stay connected and up-to-date with Andrea's compelling articles on Scope Sweep

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