News doesn’t slow down in the summer, here is some of everything that happened since our last edition.
The Supreme Court issued final rulings in a variety of cases at the end of their session, including rulings prohibiting affirmative action as we know it while letting stand exemptions for legacy admissions and military academies, allowing a web designer in Colorado to ignore anti-discrimination laws and not offer their services to potential LGBTQ+ customers, and striking down the proposed student debt cancellation plan proposed last year. While specifics vary, each decision underscores the inherent undemocratic nature of the court, the ease with which reactionary forces utilize this body of unelected officials as a bulwark against any type of reform, and the barriers that exist to any efforts to transform our society in a political system that was not made to serve the working class.
Minneapolis City Councilmember Robin Wonsley as well as Robbinsdale City Councilmember Aaron Wagner attended the “How We Win: The Democratic Socialist Policy Agenda in Office” conference sponsored and organized jointly by the DSA Fund, Jacobin, and the Nation, billed as the largest gathering of socialist elected officials in the United States in decades. While not focused much on the the strategy of socialism with regard to elections, this conference instead served two purposes; discussions of public policy and constituent services, how socialists in power can leverage their positions to deliver material gains to the working class, and to gather together elected leaders, frequently isolated by virtue of being a socialist elected official, and connect them with other electeds who are fighting for the same vision.
Councilmember Wonsley also appeared on Democracy Now and spoke about the Department of Justice report on the Minneapolis Police Department that found systemic problems with discrimination and excessive force, findings that track with the report from the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and that have been common knowledge amongst Minneapolis residents for decades. Robin highlights the blind eye that Mayor Frey and city leadership have toward MPD and the justice that has been denied to the people they have victimized both before and after George Floyd’s murder.
Minneapolis City Councilmember Aisha Chughtai recently won DFL endorsement in her re-election race this year. This is the conclusion of the Ward 10 convention that was adjourned on May 13 following translation issues, numerous credentials challenges, and attempts at rule changes, culminating in supporters of her opponent, Nasri Warsame, swarming the stage and physically confronting Chughtai supporters. Warsame was subsequently barred from seeking the DFL endorsement, and a virtual balloting process was conducted, with Aisha securing 69% of the vote. She was first elected in 2021 and was among the first group of candidates to receive Twin Cities DSA endorsement through the then newly created endorsement process.
The Minneapolis City Council voted 6-4 against introduction of an ordinance that would have begun the development of a rent stabilization policy for residents to vote on this November. This vote occurred on Eid al-Adha, June 28 this year, when Councilmembers Chughtai, Ellison, and Osman were celebrating this holiday (see their statement here). Despite this absence, including two of the measure’s authors, city council leadership chose to push forward with this inappropriate and exclusionary vote rather than allow a policy to be developed and brought back for the council to consider. This purposeful decision by Mayor Frey’s city council allies blocks any meaningful action this year from the city government on unaffordable rents this year.
Members of Starbucks Workers United went on strike this past week, with over 150 stores participating in the week-long action “Strike with Pride”, a week-long unfair labor practice strike. This included two stores in Minnesota, 300 Snelling Ave S and 3704 Silver Lake Rd NE. This strike is in response to the latest retaliation by Starbucks as management in stores across the country prevented partners from putting up pride decorations in dozens of stores, just the latest retaliation after threatening or denying benefits, firing organizers, and interfering in worker organizing. From one worker quoted “We’re striking with pride to show the public who Starbucks really is, and to let them know we’re not going anywhere.”
The Teamsters Negotiating Committee pushed back their deadline for UPS to give their last, best, and final offer to July 5 from June 30, following a revised contract offer that the union has indicated included movement on their issues, but not enough. The Teamsters contract with UPS expires on July 31, and Teamster’s President Sean O’Brien stated that “The Teamsters will not work one minute beyond the expiration of our current agreement.” The contract covers 340,000 UPS workers nationally and support during the negotiation and expected strike is a priority campaign of the DSA National Labor Commission. Priorities in these contract negotiations include better pay for all workers, elimination of the two-tier wage system, increased full-time jobs, resolution of safety and health concerns, and stronger protections against managerial harassment.
Members of UFCW 663 working at Lunds & Byerlys voted to ratify a new contract. This follows their recent vote which authorized their bargaining committee to call an Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) strike if needed. UFCW 663 had filed multiple ULP in response to company actions against members exercising their rights to organize. This was in the midst of contract negotiations that had been ongoing since their most recent contract expired on March 7. UFCW 663 represents 17,000 workers in Minnesota, including workers at 33 Cub Foods locations that nearly struck in April of this year.
Also from UFCW, Half Price Books workers held an informational picket July 1 at the St. Louis Park location. Management has slow-walked negotiations since 4 of the 6 stores in the area voted to unionize, with the most recent election certified on January 6, 2022. Now is no different, with the motivation for this picket being the company’s response on wages which workers had waited three months for. The offer was insultingly low, offering just a 1% pay raise and no bonuses. 40-50 people including Twin Cities DSA members picketed in support of their continued efforts to ensure a livable wage for their work.
Twin Cities DSA Newsletter Team