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As Labor Day approaches, Minnesota needs more jobs, jobs, jobs

Sen. Tom Bakk
Sen. Tom Bakk

COOK, Minn. — The first Labor Day was observed in 1882 by the Central Labor Union of New York as it sought to create a day to honor working citizens. In 1894, Congress made Labor Day a federal holiday, and eventually all 50 states recognized it as a state holiday, too.
 
As a retired carpenter and union leader on the Iron Range, I have many fond memories of gathering with union members to celebrate the spirit of our organizations and commitment to improving the lives of working people. For those not involved with unions, Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer; one last long weekend to gather with family and friends, get the kids ready for school, and take a breather before heading back to work.
 
But 2009 is different.

This Labor Day, too many Minnesotans don’t have a job to return to after the long weekend.
 
A record for unemployment
Last week, more than 235,000 Minnesotans received an unemployment check. Unemployment numbers have been above 200,000 every month in 2009. This has set a record for the unemployment insurance program.
 
Under the administrations of Govs. Rudy Perpich, Arne Carlson and Jesse Ventura, Minnesota added more than 300,000 new jobs. Under Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota has fewer people working today than when he took office.
 
This is unacceptable and it’s time for a strong leader who will get people back to work. I am running for governor because I have a passion for creating jobs and as governor getting people back to work and growing economic opportunity will be my No. 1 priority.
 
As a carpenter who was out of work during the 1981-82 recession, and who ran out of unemployment and health insurance for my young family, I know firsthand the importance of having a pay check on Friday to take care of a family’s needs and what it means to be unemployed. Almost all Minnesotans have been touched by this recession. They have lost their job, or have a family, friend or neighbor who has. We have to turn this around.
 
Jobs are the only way
As chairman of the Senate Tax Committee, I know that Gov. Pawlenty is leaving Minnesota’s next governor with a budget deficit that could be as serious as $6 billion. As tax chair I am working hard to help people understand this financial crisis. There aren’t enough taxes we can raise or programs we can cut to fill a $6 billion hole. The only way to get Minnesota back on track is to get Minnesotans working.
 
In the past weeks I’ve meet with union and business leaders across the state to talk about how we can create jobs. With more Minnesotans out of work than ever before it’s a real challenge, but if we don’t bring all interested parties to the table to work together and get more money into the economy there will be long-term consequences for the state.
 
Minnesota is at a crossroads. The next governor will determine if Minnesota regains its status as the Star of the North or if we continue to lose our competitive edge. I have spent my life cooperating with others to build solid structures, negotiating with businesses for fair wages and good benefits for workers, and finding innovative ways to support economic development in the state. It’s time Minnesota has a leader who will make putting people back to work a top priority. I am that bold and courageous leader with the vision to create a better future. As your next governor, I will use my experience, skills, and drive to turn Minnesota’s economy around and get Minnesota working again.
 
Have a wonderful and safe Labor Day weekend in 2009.
 
Sen. Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, represents District 6 in the Minnesota Senate. A union member for more than 30 years, Sen. Bakk retired from his job with the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters to run for the DFL endorsement for governor.

Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 08/28/2009 - 10:07 am.

    Come on DFL – you can do better than this? There are so many “code words” and “clichés” in this article that it would make AL Franken blush.

  2. Submitted by Colin Lee on 08/28/2009 - 12:15 pm.

    I agree with what he said in the article, but everyone wants to know — how do you create jobs?

    40% of the state budget is going to health care costs, including teacher benefits. Those costs increasing at a record pace and the obvious solution is to create larger health coverage pools. The first rule when you find your state at the bottom of a deep, six or seven billion dollar hole is — stop digging.

  3. Submitted by Joe Johnson on 08/28/2009 - 01:27 pm.

    As a tax accountant, I cry each time I read Sen Bakk. I’m by no means a DFL supporter but for the betterment of the state they need to replace him as Tax chair with someone who has completed more than a 1040EZ. Grossly under-qualified would give him to much credit. In the last budget cycle he support a surtax on bank interest rates in excess of 15%. The number of banking jobs that our tax policy, apportionment rules, has export from this state already boarders on absurd. There has to be one qualified tax attorney or CPA in the Senate to chair this committee.

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 08/28/2009 - 01:34 pm.

    Part of creating jobs might involve freezing dividends and executive salaries, and sacrificing profits as the recovery advances, in order to hire actual workers…

    but Wall Street will never tolerate such worker-friendly policies.

    What the “I’ve got mine and you’re going to give me a big chunk of yours’, too, without even realizing it” folks on Wall Street are ignoring, is that without the massive amounts of money contributed to 401k’s by, and mortgages taken out by… REGULAR WORKING FOLKS, most invested in or traded as part of Wall Street-based vehicles, Wall Street would scarcely exist today.

    If Wall Street continues to demand that American Business and Industry employ as few workers as possible and underpay and overwork the folks they do employ, and pursue profit, profit, profit, even if it means mistreating everyone but the executives and the investors, the day will soon come when there will not be enough investment money to keep the still- overinflated bubble we know as the Stock Market (and probably the Commodity Markets as well) inflated.

    If the Wall Street folks don’t begin to push American companies to take better care of their workers, and employ more people (and I DON’T mean those in the executive suites and board rooms), the denizens of Wall Street will simply be cutting their own throats. But they seem too far into denial, or too ignorant, or stupid, or blind to realize that they’re the ones holding the knife by which their own throats are being slashed. They just keep pressing harder and wondering where all that blood is coming from.

  5. Submitted by Annalise Cudahy on 08/28/2009 - 01:52 pm.

    Creating jobs will be hard, but I’ve outlined what I think is necessary on my own blog. To me, there’s nothing more important than reducing the overhead per worker – payroll taxes, bennies, mandated training, and recruitment. Some of this government can simply do, some it can help with, but other things will require a focused effort on the part of industries. I invite your comments because we need all the sharp minds on this that we can get.

  6. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 08/28/2009 - 02:29 pm.

    Colin Lee: Yes. And Minnesota could have a universal system supported by taxes and premiums (based on ability to pay) with a risk pool that comprised the entire population of the state.

    The Wilder Foundation is planning a formal study, but a rough estimate of the savings to be had by instituting John Marty’s Minnesota Health Plan would be about nine percent. (See http://www.muhcc.org and or http://www.minnesotahealthplan.org.)

    No one left out. No copays. No deductibles. No restriction to “networks.” No payment denials for any care decided upon by you and your doctor. Coverage for preventive as well as curative care, drugs, eyeglasses and hearing aids, emergency and long-term care, et cetera.

    Plus, the funds collected would go into a special fund where it could not be used for other purposes by a governor or legislature.

  7. Submitted by Nancy Gertner on 08/28/2009 - 07:52 pm.

    I think I learned more about Economics 101 from my Father the Farmer with an eighth grade education than I did from an econ course in college, or from listening to Fed Chairs like Greenspan or Bernanke.

    Growing up on a family farm in SW MN, I learned:

    1) Buy locally.

    2) Hire the employee that can benefit the most from the employment, not necessarily the one that will give you the most ‘bang for the buck.’

    Dad’s hired man was disabled, and no one else in the county hired him. Because he had employment from my father, he was able to support a family of four without being on relief. He had the pride of having a job.

    It took me many years to appreciate that my father was able to support two families from a 160-acre farm; his and the hired man’s. I recognized if dad’s business philosophy of ‘How many workers can my business sustain’ would be employed instead of the greedy, ‘global marketplace’ philosophy of ‘how can we cut our costs and raise our profit margins,’ the world could be a different place.

    There would be more jobs and less income disparity.

  8. Submitted by david granneman on 09/01/2009 - 07:56 pm.

    hello all
    i have a solution to minnesota’s budget problems. two large oil fields have been discovered in north dakota and montana – possibly more oil then in the middle east. how can minnesota profit from oil in north dakota. minnesota should eliminate environmental laws to allow private investers to build oil refineries in northern minnesota. oil could be pumped by pipeline or trucked from north dakota and the canadian oil sands. the oil could be refined into gas and oil and pumped to suppliers. this would not only ensure minnesota has cheap and abundant energy but also create thousands of high paying jobs. it would create all kinds of jobs everything from truck drivers to doctors. where there is energy developement there is growth and prosperity. there is no recession or deficits in texas. texas is creating jobs and has a budget surplus. minnesota could be the texas of the north. northern minnesota could be changed from a depressed area to a place where children could remain where they grew up and raise a family, instead of having to leave home and go to more prosperous areas to find a job. LET US NOT LET ALL THE WEALTH IN NORTH DAKOTA TO SLIP THRU OUR FINGERS.

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