DFL Captures Both Houses, Voters Reject Regressive Amendments, Rep. Cravaack Defeated SEIU Members Play Critical Role in Electing Champions for Working People, Defeating Amendments
ST. PAUL, MN – For the last two years, Minnesotans have watched as Republican politicians in St. Paul shutdown the government to protect a tax break for big corporations, slashed millions of dollars from our public school system, and eliminated a tax credit for 95% of homeowners while voting to lower taxes on big corporations. But last night, in a broad rejection of Republicans’ divisive policies, Minnesotans elected pro-working family majorities to both houses of the state legislature. Echoing a common distaste for divisive politics, voters also rejected two constitutional amendments that promised to limit the freedom to marry and to disenfranchise thousands of voters. Tea Party stalwart Chip Cravaack, representing Minnesota’s eighth congressional district, was also defeated.
“Last night was a critical victory for working families across the state of Minnesota,” explained Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, which, along with three other SEIU locals, represent nearly 30,000 janitors, nurses, public school bus drivers, security guards and other workers across the state. “Voters sent a clear message: we expect that our leaders will stand up for the middle class, strengthen our public schools, broaden access to healthcare, and make sure that the wealthy pay their fair share – not for the interests of the ultra-wealthy, regardless of the cost to working Minnesotans.”
In the weeks and months leading up to the election, hundreds of SEIU members from across Minnesota had more than 245,000 conversations with voters at their doors and over the phone in key legislative districts.
“In conversation after conversation, we heard the same thing from voters,” Gulley continued. “We must elect leaders that are focused on rebuilding the middle class instead of politicians willing to shut down the government to protect their corporate cronies.”
SEIU was among the first organizations in Minnesota to endorse campaigns to “Vote No” on both the marriage and voter restriction amendments.
“As a union, we stand for the basic principles of fairness,” Gulley noted. “We believe in equal pay for equal work, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to participate in our democracy and we believe that both of these amendments would strike a blow to justice and humanity for a significant number of Minnesotans.
“Because of this, we made a decision to stand with a broad coalition of organizations insisting that Minnesotans ‘Vote No’,” Gulley added.
SEIU partnered with a coalition faith, labor and progressive allies to engage in more than 20,000 conversations with voters in the Latino, Somali, African American, Ethiopian, Native American and Hmong communities about was at stake with the constitutional amendments.
“Despite a number of key victories last night, our work is far from done,” said Gulley. “Working families across the state of Minnesota continue to struggle with stagnant wages, unemployment and under employment. But we believe that by working together, across our communities, and with strong leadership in St. Paul there is a real opportunity to strengthen Minnesota’s middle class, invest in our children, keep healthcare for seniors accessible and ensure that our tax system is fair.”
SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, childcare, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of approximately 30,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.