Day on the Hill 2019: A rally to remember

This year’s Day on the Hill rally in the rotunda did not disappoint. In another major first for our Council, our sister union, MAPE (Minnesota Association of Professional Employees) and AFSCME held a joint midday rally. Union members packed all three floors, filling the rotunda to its brim.

MAPE’s Executive Director, Lina Jamoul, opened the rally by firing up the crowd and declaring, “Together, we are 60,000 workers strong.That's 60,000 workers committed to workplace democracy and a just economy that works for everyone, not just those few at the top.”

AFSCME members were thrilled to welcome some major names to the stage. We were honored to have Governor Tim Walz – Minnesota’s ‘organizer in chief’ - address the roaring crowd of union members. Gov. Walz drew on his own experience as a union member and reaffirmed his commitment to supporting the collective bargaining rights of Minnesota’s public workers.

Walz said, “I was recently asked an interesting question. They said, ‘will the Governor stand with unions or with the people of Minnesota?’ We all know that's a false choice. When you stand for the right to collectively bargain with unions, you are standing with the people of Minnesota.” Amid cheers, he continued, “So many people who aren't here today are living better lives with more dignity because of you.”

All three of Minnesota’s Constitutional Officers – State Auditor Julie Blaha, Attorney General Keith Ellison and Secretary of State Steve Simon – also took to the stage, voicing their support for working Minnesotans, collective bargaining and the labor movement as a whole.

Blaha, a former math teacher and lifelong union activist, said, “The best part of my job is getting in the weeds. But I look at those numbers for you because you are in every number. You are where the rubber meets the road.”

Secretary of State Steve Simon echoed those sentiments. “Everyday Minnesotans know that our system is well-run. And who are the people running those elections? Public employees! Elections don't run themselves; they're run by people. People who are well-trained, honest, ethical, thoughtful, and diligent. That's you. And I thank you for that.”

Attorney General Keith Ellison wrapped up the rally with fiery energy.  “It is so critical that we are assembled here in this place, raising our voices as one, because there are folks who don't like working people fighting for safer working conditions, better pay, and better benefits together. I want to say to all of you: you have a right to a good life. Your children have a right to a good life. We will win when we come together.”