MINNEAPOLIS — From healthcare and education to retail and building maintenance, dozens of workers from several different job areas came together Friday for a march. Organizers said it was part of a national movement, with thousands of workers nationwide taking to the streets to demand "unions for all."
"We are the ones who keep the company running," one speaker said. "We are the ones who keep the stores running."
Before the group marched from Minneapolis' Cedar Riverside neighborhood to work sites including Starbucks and Trader Joe's downtown, they sat down for a roundtable discussion with Gov. Tim Walz.
"We're not going to get to universal healthcare unless we organize unions," the governor said. "We're not going to get to social and racial justice issues unless we organize unions. We're not going to get a more holistic broad approach to public safety unless we organize unions."
On the panel, which included a condo worker currently on strike, workers shared how little they were taught about unions growing up and how involved they are now.
"When I started, I didn't, I probably couldn't even tell you what a union was," a senior mental health coordinator said. "Back in May, we had a one-day strike for the senior mental health coordinators … Earlier this month, we had a three-day strike … It's been a long road but it's been quite the experience just seeing how that union process works."
Panelists emphasized that workers are "exercising power like never before" by setting up new unions. For example, the Starbucks on E 47th St and Cedar Ave and the downtown Trader Joe's are some of these companies' first stores to unionize nationwide.
"The biggest thing that I've learned is that when we work together we can take on these corporations and we can win," a Starbucks barista said. "We got our bargaining date."
Gov. Walz mentioned that when he was a U.S. representative, congress passed the Affordable Care Act but not the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have offered protections for workers looking to unionize. He said that was regrettable and that laws like that need to be strengthened.
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