Minnesota AFL-CIO follows playbook to elect union-friendly candidates

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bernie Burnham joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast and discussed the need to encourage union members to run for office and how the AFL-CIO can help pro-labor candidates succeed.

Burnham is the second woman to lead the Minnesota AFL-CIO, and the first woman of color.

One of her major goals since taking office is to help more union members successfully run for public office.

The Minnesota AFL-CIO is currently building a union member candidate program from the ground up, Burnham said. She noted the state federation has patterned their playbook after the New Jersey AFL-CIO’s program. In 2020, under a pilot program, the Minnesota AFL-CIO recruited union members to run for municipal offices, school board and state legislature. The campaign was considered a success, as their candidates won two school board seats and one seat on a city council. The goal is to build on that success and to continue to grow the program, she added.

Minnesotans have greatly benefited from the union-friendly politics of Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, and the Minnesota AFL-CIO supports his re-election, Burnham said. She discussed a $1,500 bonus for essential workers Walz included in his proposed budget, but it was whittled down to $750 by the Republican-controlled state Senate. Burnham stressed the importance of re-electing Walz and turning the state Senate into a Democratic majority in order to support the issues important to working families.

Lastly, Burnham discussed recent union wins in Minnesota, including a Starbucks, Half-Price Books store and several breweries and distilleries. People are tired of low wages and poor benefits, and are willing to step up to fight for what is right, she added.

Listen to the entire episode to learn more about these topics:


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