Friday, May 27, 2022


High gas prices are not slowing down Memorial Day travel, early voting starts tomorrow in Nevada, and Oregon activists seek accountability for dioxin contamination in low-income Eugene.


Education Secretary Cardona calls for action after the Texas massacre, Republicans block a domestic terrorism vote, and Secretary of State Blinken calls China the greatest challenger to U.S. and its allies.


High-speed internet is being used to entice remote workers to rural communities, Georgia is offering Black women participation in a guaranteed income initiative, and under-resourced students in Montana get a boost toward graduation.

Public Works, Smaller Organizing Tied to More Union Activity in MN


Thursday, January 27, 2022   

The past year saw American workers reassessing their jobs. However, those shifts did not result in higher union membership at the national level, now back at previous lows.

Minnesota labor leaders say at the state level, the numbers are a little more promising, with 16% of working Minnesotans part of a union, up slightly from the previous year, and the state's highest level in 14 years.

Bill McCarthy, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, said apart from more unionized workers being hired for infrastructure projects, there is a growing sense younger workers want their voices heard.

"Whether it's wages or benefits or whatever the case may be, they just want to have a say in that," McCarthy explained.

Not all the organizing is being driven by staff at large employers such as manufacturers. Grocery workers and restaurant staff are formalizing plans to establish unions, and gains are being seen in health care. Despite more activity, experts say laws still make it difficult for these groups to overcome barriers in reaching their goals to successfully bargain.

Labor leaders argued it is why Congress needs to give final approval to the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which is opposed by Senate Republicans and business groups.

Aaron Sojourner, a labor economist at the University of Minnesota, said while the state's latest uptick represents a small difference, he said there is a taste for change within the labor force.

"Through the pandemic, they had the rules of their jobs scrambled and the rules of their lives scrambled," Sojourner pointed out.

He noted some workers felt accommodated, but many others did not, and while existing laws might prevent roadblocks to organizing, Sojourner added workers have a lot of leverage right now with so many open jobs, as well as strong public backing.

Disclosure: Minnesota AFL-CIO contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Civil Rights, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email
Early voting locations will be open across Nevada for several weeks, from May 28 through June 10. (Jlmcanally/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

The Nevada primary election is June 14, and early voting starts tomorrow and runs through June 10. Mail balloting is now permanent, so every active …

Social Issues

Democrats in the Florida Legislature are reviving calls for stricter gun-control laws, following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Florida's …


This week, in honor of World Otter Day, conservation groups are looking to raise awareness about efforts to restore sea otters along more areas of …

There's been a roughly 38% drop in drowning deaths over the past two decades. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

With the unofficial start to summer, pools around Ohio are opening this Memorial Day weekend, and when it comes to swim time, experts encourage …


Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of water recreation season, and before putting on a swimsuit, Iowa environmental experts say being mindful …

A 2019 report from the Economic Policy Institute found teacher shortages were especially acute in higher-poverty schools. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

As the nation processes the horrific shooting in Uvalde, where 19 children and two teachers were killed, teachers' unions across Illinois and America …

Social Issues

The cost of heading out of town this Memorial Day weekend will be higher than past years, with higher gas prices and inflation hitting travelers…

Health and Wellness

One of Connecticut's largest health systems launched a new resource in Hartford this month, aimed at helping patients access healthy and nutritious …


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021