Monday, April 29, 2013

Minnesota Democrats go on offense, expand unions, hope to increase minimum wage.

I asked State Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Rep. Dianne Hesselbein if they could start a trend, go on the offensive for once, and promise to restore so much of what we lost under the Walker Authority. That's all.

I can't remember their answer, and that's what troubles me. These guys are fighters, yet...

Without a strong agenda, backed by an uncompromising philosophy, what alternative do voters have? If they're not happy with Scott Walker's failed policies and lousy jobs record, do they even know what choices are out there? Can they say, "let's see if the Democratic plan will work?"

Fat chance of that. But luckily, Democrats here might be able to take some inspiration from our Minnesota neighbors, who aren't wasting any time:

MPR: Minnesota has emerged as one of the few places where unions are faring well. Democrats hope they're creating a bulwark in a more hostile world. ‘There's been a general war on anyone who is working class and has a union by trying to take union rights away,’ [said] Democratic Rep. Michael Nel. 'Here in Minnesota maybe we're ahead of the curve in pushing back.' But Republicans see dire consequences ahead, including a possible business backlash."

The Legislature may give labor a longtime priority -- the right to organize home day care workers and personal care attendants, which would help rebuild union membership. Lawmakers could make the state's minimum wage the highest in the nation at nearly $10 an hour and are poised to require hospitals to regularly report staffing numbers, a victory for nurses union.

Other bills would cut public subsidies to organizations that engage in lockouts, force companies to pay unemployment for up to three years during lockouts, and would help unions organize hotel workers and those in other buildings erected with public aid. "The war on public workers is finally over,'' said state parks and trails worker Connie Andrews. "You're not being targeted. You're not being blamed.'

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