Ive just been elected
to serve two more years as primary spokesperson for 'the union movement in the Duluth area
(God willing), so I thought it would be appropriate to gauge where we are and to
We've welcomed an additional 400 new members to our Duluth Central
Labor Body and now represent over 11,500 union members. We expect to add an additional
1,000 new members when first contracts are finalized in the next few months. With
affiliations, ongoing outreach and organizing we should top 15,000 members within the next
1. We as a union movement will not go away as some in our community
would like. Instead we'll concentrate our collective efforts on building a strong base
for all of our union members, now and in the future. We will do this by encouraging and
coordinating organizing efforts of our affiliates. We will coordinate solidarity efforts
for those affiliates that are drawn into disputes with their employers. And we will
continue to engage in outreach efforts throughout the community to broaden the
understanding and acceptance of who 3. we are as neighbors, coaches, church members,
volunteers and as union members.
We're pleased to see some segments of the community taking positive
action to promote a broader dialogue about economic issues. We now have a religion labor
network meeting to work on finding common areas of interest.
4. Churches United in Ministries continues to engage its member congregations and
the wider community into discussions about economic justice.
The Duluth Women's Commission, in collaboration with other women's
groups, has decided to focus their efforts on economic justice issues as the primary
concern facing women in our community. And there are many other efforts of this nature. We
know that these discussions can only help to create a better understanding of 5.why
unions exist. We will actively participate in community discussions that help to
promote this improved understanding. 6. We will also be active in countering those who
seek to marginalize, berate or even try to destroy us as a union movement.
This last election cycle certainly confirmed many suspicions about the
intentions of some in the business community toward labor. The antiunion tone and 7 the
willingness to distribute false information about our unions was disappointing. A
broader concern about questions of character also arose.
8. There was a letter submitted by the Chamber of Commerce and
published by this paper that had my name on it along with the chamber president and
CEO, David Ross, but did not have my approval. I complained to the editorial
page staff since I had never been contacted to get my OK. I'm glad I did because two weeks
before the general election another letter was submitted with my name on it, along with
the chamber president. This time I got a call to check on my approval. I did not approve
and it was not published.
Then I find out I'm not alone. A recent Chamber president, 9.Bob
Heimbach, distributed an inaccurate and anti-union fund-raising letter for the Mary Mary
Mars Committee favoring School Board candidates which had a who's who of current
chamber leaders listed on it. 10. Many of those listed on the letter had not been
contacted and did not approve of their name being used.
It was heartening to hear from the chairman of the Chamber's Political
Action Committee, Nick Patronas, that he resigned as a result of this letter. Not all in
the business community want to operate in this fashion. But is this any way to represent
We in the labor community will be open to discussion with anyone about
the betterment of our community, provided we are treated with respect, not as second-class
citizens. We will continue our work at representing our members as best we can in the
community. There is always too much to do. But there is no lack of will to do what we can.