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Union supporters rally to stop right-to-work measure

Union power was on display at the Capitol today, but that didn't stop the Senate Judiciary Committee from passing the Republican-sponsored bill on a vote of 7-6. At the PiPress, Megan Boldt writes: “Hundreds of unionized workers filled the Minnesota Capitol today, preparing for battle as a proposed constitutional amendment that would make it harder for unions to organize gets its first legislative hearing. The fight over whether to make Minnesota a ‘right to work’ state promises to be emotional and hard fought, as it has been in other places across the nation, as business leaders and labor organizers duke it out over whether it would spark economic growth or lower wages for middle-class families."

Patrick Condon’s AP story says: “The debate over right-to-work measures has flared in state Capitols around the country in the last two years, as Republicans who gained power in numerous statehouses have pushed to weaken union strength. Minnesota supporters say right-to-work legislation would improve the state's business climate and improve the economy. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is a strong union supporter, but he would have no power to veto a statewide vote, which is what Republicans are pursuing. Some Republicans have been tentative about the massive fight with unions assured by pursuing the amendment, and the bill's chief supporter — Sen. Dave Thompson, R-Lakeville — said he has no promise from the Senate majority leader that it would get a full Senate vote. Ursula Tuttle, a registered nurse at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, said she lived in Oklahoma in 2001 when voters there approved a right-to-work measure. She told the committee she voted in favor and later regretted it. ‘I believed it would create jobs. It didn't,’ Tuttle said. ‘It didn't create jobs, and we stayed poor.' " That is just so surprising. So, how, I wonder, did the job creators fare?

The big PolyMet copper-nickel mining project is on track. Dan Kraker of MPR says: “8th District GOP Rep. Chip Cravaack says the controversial PolyMet precious metals mining project in northeast Minnesota is on track to have a draft environmental review released to the public this October. Cravaack updated the project timeline after meeting with officials from the state and federal agencies reviewing the proposal. Cravaack said there don't appear to be any more holdups to completing the supplemental environmental impact statement. ... Release of the long-awaited review was delayed last fall when the Environmental Protection Agency asked PolyMet for more modeling of how the project would meet water and air quality regulations.”

Consider the source, but the Vikings stadium bill to be debated starting this week is “the best ever.” Cathy Wurzer at MPR writes: “[GOP Sen. Julie] Rosen, of Fairmont, is the lead author of the Senate version of the bill. She said the legislation's chance of passage is better than the odds Dayton predicted over the weekend. ‘As we've been saying all along, this is not an easy package to put together. But it is put together. It's a good bill. Anybody's who's had a chance to read it has said, you know, this is the best stadium bill we've had on the table, ever,’ she said. The bill relies on about $400 million from the state, $150 million from Minneapolis and $427 million from the Vikings. ‘There is a great interest, a great desire to just get this thing done,’ Rosen said. ‘That's what I hear when I go out around the state and amongst my constituents. And that's what other senators are hearing from their constituents. Just get the thing done.' " And can we stop all this silly fussing over who pays what?

Just a bit less upbeat is blogger Neil de Mause at “Field of Schemes,” the national stadium-watch site: “The Minnesota Vikings stadium bill is set to be introduced into the state legislature today, and it turns out that — whoops! — nobody bothered to see whether state gambling interests were okay with its expansion of 'pulltab' gambling to fund a stadium. And despite a last-second move by Gov. Mark Dayton to peel off $10 million a year from the pulltab revenues and use it for tax breaks for charitable gambling, they're still pretty cheesed off about the whole thing … While the Star Tribune article on this doesn't come out and say it, presumably one concern of Allied Charities — which is basically an organization of charities that fundraise via pulltabs, with a small sideline in bingo — is that Vikings pulltabs will cut into their customer base, causing them to lose money. There's also the small matter that no one is exactly sure how much money Vikings pulltabs will raise — Dayton guesses $62.5 million a year, but it's estimated that as much as $80 million a year could be needed to finance VIkings bonds, since gambling revenue is considered a riskier revenue source. ‘If the electronic pulltabs just [don't] work,’ understated state senate majority leader David Senjem last Friday, ‘why, then, no one can probably vote for it.' " The real issue is what if they vote for it first, then it doesn’t work?

Do you — or does someone you know in Wisconsin have a right to know who might be packing?  The AP is reporting: “The Wisconsin Department of Justice keeps lists of people who have concealed carry permits, but people can't access them. And opinions differ on whether that's a good thing. Advocacy group Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort says making available concealed carry permit information would allow groups to ensure people who carry concealed handguns, knives or electric weapons are ‘as law-abiding as the lawmakers promised,’ said Jeri Bonavia, the organization's executive director. ‘Since we don't know who concealed carry weapon holders are, we don't know what they're doing’ or if they're the ones committing violent crimes, she said. ‘That's really frustrating. Are these people as law-abiding as the senators promised us, or have we been kind of duped?’ But the National Rifle Association says making sure concealed carry permit holders are abiding the law isn't a job for the general public. ‘That's the function of law enforcement,’ said Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the NRA. ‘There's no need for these people to have their privacy compromised.’ ”

Score one for home-schooling. At the PiPress, Andy Greder writes: “After correctly spelling ‘pickelhaube,’ ‘idiopathic’ and ‘pharmacology,’ Elise Stahl of Greenfield won the seven-county metro-area regional spelling bee Saturday on the word ‘remand.’ In the 16th round, Elise, 12, outlasted Eva Beeman Trelstad, 10, of St. Paul and Benjamin Pults, 13, of Maplewood to represent Minnesota at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May. Elise, who is home-schooled and in the seventh grade, won in front of a capacity crowd at the 3M Auditorium at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.”

It hasn’t been a good run for the Sensers. Paul Walsh of the Strib writes: “Another one of Joe Senser's Twin Cities restaurants is closed. A sign on the door of the Joe Senser's Restaurant and Sports Theater in Plymouth says it was closed for economic reasons. The Senser's in Eagan closed in November, with financial reasons cited for that move as well. There are two Senser's restaurants remaining. The Roseville restaurant opened in 1988, followed by one in Bloomington in 1990. The Eagan restaurant opened in 1998. The Plymouth locale, along Hwy. 55 east of Rockford Road, opened in 2007.”

We might start getting woozy from too much upbeat real estate news … The Strib’s Jim Buchta is reporting: “Motivated by record low mortgage rates, pre-crash prices and limited options, Twin Cities home buyers signed 3,756 purchase agreements last month, a 34 percent increase compared with last year at this time and the best February since 2006, according to data released this morning by the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. Though buyers were out in force, foreclosures continued to represent more than 40 percent of all sales, causing the median sale price of all closed sales last month to fall 1.4 percent to $138,000. That was the lowest price decline in 16 months. ‘The mix of homes selling is slowly starting to change which has translated into the smallest price decline since October 2010,’ said Cari Linn, President of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors. ‘Subsiding price declines are a sign of market rebalance.’ ”

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Comments (6)

"that would make it harder for unions to organize"

Yeah, by making membership voluntary instead of mandatory. You either believe in freedom or you don't.

What the?

I thought conservatives believed in personal responsibility. Now they're pushing right to work for less which would allow free loaders to enjoy the benefits of union membership with out paying for them. By federal law, unions are legally obligated to represent all members of a bargaining unit during disciplinary matters regardless of whether or not they are members.

Now if I choose to buy a condo, is it "infringing on my economic liberty" if I am compelled to pay the condo association fees? Of course not. If I don't want to pay association fees I don't have to buy a condo.

I can choose my employer, and if I don't want to join a union I can choose a non-union employer. There are plenty of them out there.

Years ago Texas Republican Phil Gramm (who cashed government checks for decades) was speaking about welfare when he said, "Some people are going to have to get out of the wagon and help push." Today conservatives want to enable free loaders. My how times have changed.

charities and their pull tabs

So what do we want? A new stadium (GO VIKES) or those annoying charities and all the lazy poor people they support? Dumb question (GO VIKES)!


Obviously, Julie Rosen only hears from the small minority in favor of public financing for a stadium, since opponents know that any calls or letters to her are a waste of time.

Union membership IS voluntary

I’m sure it will come as a surprise to Mr. Tester to know that the issue here isn’t “freedom” at all. Union membership is not “mandatory” anywhere in the United States. Federal law prohibits the “union shop,” wherein any/every new hire must join the union representing the workers at that particular place of employment. The “union shop” is illegal, and it doesn’t exist anywhere in the country, including in Minnesota.

What “right to work” laws do is make it illegal for unions to collect the equivalent of dues from employees who are *not* union members, but who nonetheless accept union services, primarily the negotiation of wages and benefits, that affect all employees. Offhand, I don’t know of any employers who maintain separate wage scales for union and non-union workers, so when the union representing the employees negotiates a wage hike, those employees who are not union members get a raise, but they do so without compensating the union for that service. The most gentle way I’ve heard them referred to is “free riders.” But I’ve also heard the term “leeches,” and several others even less complimentary.

Based on the historical record, if employers *did* maintain separate union and non-union wage scales, the wages of non-union workers would be lower than their union counterparts, since wages in “right to work” states are significantly lower, on average, than wages in the few remaining states that have a fairly strong union presence. Whatever wages, benefits and time off Mr. Tester enjoys are likely the result of union negotiations some years ago, and even if not, he’d be mistaken if he attributed them to benevolence on the part of his employer – unless, of course, he’s self-employed. As a culture, our historical memory often resembles amnesia.

Public Records

Wisconsin is going to make public the list of conceal and carry permit holders so private groups can ensure that they are "law-abiding" and not committing violent crimes? Great!

I think it would only be fair, then, that we should be able to see records of what cars people own. I think I might form a group to check up on those who own cars with excessive horsepower. You know, just to make sure they are "law-abiding". If there's a hit and run in their neighborhood, we can just go check their bumper for blood! No police investigation necessary!

Private organizations aren't bound by probable cause or the 4th amendment or anything, so I think this sort of disclosure would be great! We can make sure that those packing heat and those driving Ferraris don't do anything stupid.