Political Action

MN Musicians Vote NO on Marriage Inequality and Voter Restriction

Peter Mielech is doing all he can to help protect voting rights and marriage equality for all Minnesotans. That’s why this weekend, he is organizing “MN Musicians Vote NO!” a two-night music festival and get out the vote effort.  Along with delivering a fun atmosphere, Peter’s goal is to raise awareness and funds in order to defeat Amendment 1 and 2 on the ballot this election.

By day, Peter, an SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member, is a patient transport aide and a union steward at United Hospital in St. Paul, MN. But he’s currently volunteering his time to organize the awareness event.  “This all came about because I have a unique interest in music and I found a way to use that to deepen my involvement with my union and with causes that are important to me,” he said.

“These are constitutional amendments and should not be taken lightly,” Peter said. “I am a proud Minnesotan and I would just be embarrassed if these amendments pass.”

The Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (Amendment 1) is a measure that would forever write marriage discrimination into the Minnesota Constitution and is one of four marriage related ballot initiatives this election along with Maine, Maryland and Washington.

The Minnesota Voter Identification Amendment (Amendment 2) would require that all voters in the state show photo identification before voting, which studies have shown disenfranchises a substantial section of the electorate, typically senior citizens, minorities, disable Americans, and low-income voters.

“These things don’t have a place in our state constitution,” Peter said.

Minnesota Viking punter Chris Kluwe and his band Tripping Icarius along with Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum and Adam Levy of Honeydogs headline the festival at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis this Friday and Saturday. All proceeds benefit Minnesotans United for All Families and Take Action MN, organizations leading the charge to defeat these proposed amendments.If you would like to donate to one of these organizations, you can do so at their respective websites.

MN Musicians Vote NO is presented by Modern Radio, an independent, do-it-yourself record label co-owned by Mr. Mielech that was created to document the community of artists in the Twin Cities.



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Voter I.D.? NOT FOR ME! (Member Column)

As we near Tuesday, November 6, 2012, we hear from many sources how important this election is.  From the President to other elected officials, we as citizens will be making leadership choices that could affect many issues that are important to us.  In Minnesota, we will also decide on whether to add two amendments to our State Constitution.

The marriage amendment asks for a strict definition on marriage, it is not making same sex marriage legal.  Of even greater importance to me is the amendment that would require every voter in Minnesota to show photo identification to cast a ballot in all elections.  For myself, I find this to be a destruction of our civil liberties with a potential of silencing many members of our society.

This is what you will see on your ballot when you vote in Minnesota:

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?”

On the surface, many people I have spoken to think, “What’s the big deal?”  I will try to explain why I am so against this amendment.

The first thing that should make all of us nervous is the word “free”.  How often does anything provided by our government come without a monetary cost?  The truth to this is that it will not really be free.  The taxpayers of Minnesota will pay “something”, but what that something is remains to be determined.  It could be miniscule, but it could be astronomical.  So how much are you willing to “pay” to vote?  This smells like a poll tax which is unconstitutional according to the 24th amendment to the United States Constitution.  And if you are still not sure, take a look at Indiana.  Indiana has approved a similar amendment to their constitution.  It was initially believed to have a total cost to the taxpayers of Indiana of $700,000.  But the final cost has not been determined.  Current cost is at an estimated TEN MILLION dollars, and growing.  So, how much will you be willing to pay in additional taxes, just to be able to vote?

Consider the current state of our society.  We have many students, elderly people, and many who have now lost their residences because of foreclosure.  We have many more who move from place to place very quickly, sometimes changing their address more than four times in a year.  Many people in these situations currently do not have a valid ID.  Should these people lose their right to vote?

There are many other arguments and issues that can go along with this, and I can certainly appreciate wanting to make sure that our votes are counted and each person only votes once.  But there is no proof that rampant voter fraud is occurring.  For example, the election results of 2004 in Ohio found a potential voter fraud rate of 0.00004%.  With voter fraud carrying a fine of 5 years in prison and a $10,000 dollar fine, the idea of casting one additional vote with that penalty really is not very feasible.  This becomes a solution in search of a problem.

Many of our members are veterans of the military, or have family or friends currently serving in our nation’s armed forces.  As a veteran, I remember very well the oath I stated when I entered into serving.  One of the things I swore to protect was the right of EVERY citizen to vote in our nations elections.  When a military ID is not good enough for a person to vote, I honestly do not feel this is a very good law.

To close I want to remind all of you that voting is a right.  As citizens, we need to protect those rights.  Not just for ourselves, but for those among us who cannot protect that right.  If we give up, or put in any type of restrictions to our right to vote, what right will you be willing to give up next?  Your right to a lawyer?  Your right to free speech?  Your right to life?  Be careful, your rights are precious and if taken, they will be very hard to get back.

I have voted in every election since 1976, and I am proud of my involvement in the process.  But it frustrates me that I may be seeing my right to have a voice in my democracy taken from me.  I will not allow my vote to be taken from me.

When I look at a constitutional amendment, I think of it as a good amendment if it appears to improve the lives of the majority of the citizens that it would affect.  In the case of voter ID it will make it very difficult for many of our citizens to vote.  So why do we want to limit our rights?

No matter which side of the issue you are on, I urge you to make certain to take the time to have your voice heard on Tuesday, November 6.  Remember that the right to have a voice in the election is your Constitutional right.  Do not let it be taken from you or infringed on!

Stay strong sisters and brothers, and as always,



Mark Freeman
Methodist Hospital


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The last four days before the Election, union volunteers will be out in force all over Minnesota to make sure working families remem-ber to vote. We need SEIU members like you to volunteer for a shift of doorknocking or phonebanking between Saturday, November 3rd and Tuesday, November 6th. To volunteer, call 651-294-8130 or sign up here!


SEIU 2012 Endorsed Candidates

There’s a saying in our labor movement that the most important contract negotiation is the next one.  Every few years, we have the opportunity to protect hard won achievements and make important improvements in our working conditions.

This year’s election on November 6 will be the same, not just for us, but for the whole country.  The November elections are our chance to protect the hard won achievements that our parents and grandparents made and to make important improvements in the lives of middle class Minnesotans.  For that, we need leaders.SEIU has endorsed the following candidates in the 2012 election.

These candidates have proven to SEIU’s members they are committed to making Minnesota and the United States a better place for working families.

Find out what district you live in and the candidates on your ballot at the MN Secretary of States Pollfinder website.

Jump to candidate section:
US Senate
US House of Representatives
MN State Senate
MN House of Representatives
Local Races


President back to top
Barack Obama
US Senate back to top
Amy Klobuchar
US House of Representives back to top
Tim Walz 1
Mike Obermueller 2
Brian Barnes 3
Betty Mccollum 4
Keith Ellison 5
Jim Graves 6
Rick Nolan 8
MN State Senate back to top
Leroy Stumpf 1
Rod Skoe 2
Tom Bakk 3
Tom Saxhaug 5
David J. Tomassoni 6
Roger J. Reinert 7
Al Doty 9
Taylor Stevenson 10
Tony Lourey 11
John Schultz 12
Jerry Mccarter 14
Ted L. Suss 16
Lyle Koenen 17
Kevin Dahle 20
Matt Schmit 21
Vicki Jensen 24
Ken Moen 26
Dan Sparks 27
Mike Starr 31
Jeske Noordergraaf 32
Sharon Bahensky 34
John Hoffman 36
Alice Johnson 37
Timothy Henderson 38
Julie Bunn 39
Chris Eaton 40
Barb Goodwin 41
Bev Scalze 42
Chuck Wiger 43
Ann H. Rest 45
Ron Latz 46
James F. Weygand 47
Laurie Mckendry 48
Melisa Franzen 49
Melissa Halvorson Wiklund 50
Jim Carlson 51
James Metzen 52
Katie Sieben 54
Greg Clausen 57
Andrew Brobston 58
Bobby Joe Champion 59
Kari Dziedzic 60
Scott Dibble 61
Jeff Hayden 62
Patricia Torres Ray 63
Dick Cohen 64
Sandy Pappas 65
John Marty 66
Foung Hawj 67
MN House of Representatives back to top
Bruce Patterson 01A
Roger A Erickson 02A
David Dill 03A
Mary Murphy 03B
Paul Marquart 04B
Tom Anzelc 05B
Carly Melin 06A
Erik Simonson 07B
Adrian Welle 09B
John Ward 10A
Joe Radinovich 10B
Tim Faust 11B
Richard Bohannon 13A
Shannon Schroeder 13B
Anne Nolan 14A
Zach Dorholt 14B
Joe Walsh 15A
Brian Johnson 15B
Al Kruse 16A
Andrew Falk 17A
Mary Sawatzky 17B
Nancy Larson 18A
Logan Campa 18B
Terry Morrow 19A
Kathy Brynaert 19B
David Bly 20B
Kevin Labenz 23A
Craig A Brenden 24A
Patti Fritz 24B
Tina Liebling 26A
Shannon Savick 27A
Jeanne Poppe 27B
Susann Dye 29A
Ryan Fiereck 31A
Paul Gammel 32A
Rick Olseen 32B
David B. Hoden 34B
Jim Abeler 35A
Sam Scott 35B
Grace Baltich 36A
Melissa Hortman 36B
Jerry Newton 37A
Greg M. Pariseau 38B
Tom Degree 39B
Michael Nelson 40A
Debra Hilstrom 40B
Connie Bernardy 41A
Carolyn Laine 41B
Barb Yarusso 42A
Jason “Ike” Isaacson 42B
Peter Fischer 43A
Audrey Britton 44A
John H. Benson 44B
Lyndon R. Carlson 45A
Ryan Winkler 46A
Steve Simon 46B
Yvonne Selcer 48A
Ron Erhardt 49A
Paul Rosenthal 49B
Linda Slocum 50A
Ann Lenczewski 50B
Sandra Masin 51A
Laurie Halverson 51B
Rick Hansen 52A
Joe Atkins 52B
Joann Ward 53A
Dan Schoen 54A
Denny Mcnamara 54B
Chuck Berg 55A
Will Morgan 56B
Roberta Gibbons 57A
Jeff Wilfahrt 57B
Jim Arlt 58B
Joe Mullery 59A
Raymond Dehn 59B
Diane Loeffler 60A
Phyllis Kahn 60B
Frank Hornstein 61A
Paul Thissen 61B
Karen Clark 62A
Susan Allen 62B
Jim Davnie 63A
Jean Wagenius 63B
Erin Murphy 64A
Michael Paymar 64B
Rena Moran 65A
Carlos Mariani 65B
Alice Hausman 66A
John Lesch 66B
Tim Mahoney 67A
Sheldon Johnson 67B
Local Races back to top
Hennepin County Commissioners
Linda Higgins
Brooklyn Center City Council
Renita Wicker
Minneapolis School Board
Tracine Asberry District 6
Kim Ellison District 2
Carla Bates At-Large
North St Paul-Maplewood School Board
Steve Hunt
Wyoming City Council
Kriss Hakala

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Door Knock for SEIU Sister, Rep. Patti Fritz

SEIU member, Rep. Patti Fritz is running for re-election to the Minnesota House of Representatives. She needs the help of her union brothers and sisters to win this year. Join SEIU members and staff to show our support for Patti THIS Saturday, September 29, 2012, as we talk to voters in her district.

This is your chance to make sure we continue to have a voice in the legislature who knows what it means to be a member of SEIU.

Let us know you are coming by signing up. 

Meet us at 8:00 AM in the SEIU MN State Council parking lot, 2233 University Ave W, St. Paul, MN 55114 to car pool down to Faribault, MN.

You can also meet the crew in Faribault at 9:30 AM at Bernie’s Grill, 129 Central Ave N, Faribault, MN.

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SEIU HCMN Member, James Guy Shines A Light On Voter ID Amendment

SEIU Member, James Guy, studying district maps

Member Profile:

James Guy, 23
Dietary Aide at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis & SEIU Union Steward

SEIU Member, James Guy, studying district maps

“I felt like I wanted to do something this year,” says Guy, when asked why he sought a leave of absence from work to commit his time and energy to issues important to SEIU members this election year.   As a “lost timer,” based out of SEIU Minnesota State Council, Guy is working hard to help inform and educate members on issues important to the 99%–especially on reasons to oppose the Voter ID Amendment on this fall’s ballot.

Guy points out some basic talking points on the ballot question:

  • Minnesota has one of the cleanest and most effective election systems in the country;
  • This is not about ID. This is about our democracy and the right to vote;
  • This amendment would make it harder or impossible to vote for over 700,000 Minnesotans;
  • This is an intentional attempt to shut out the very poor who are most hurt by the policies of the 1% and prevent them from voting for change;
  • Soliders on active duty would be able to vote under the amendment because they would not be able to present an ID in person;
  • There have been no cases of election fraud in Minnesota and so this is a solution seeking a problem—a problem that does not exist.

“I have never been involved in politics before and yet I have never been afraid to be vocal about issues important to me,” he adds.  And this year, especially, there are many issues that have gotten his full attention and he wants to work hard from now through Election Day to not only inform and educate SEIU members across the state but also to mobilize them to become involved in such things as; door-knocking for candidates endorsed by SEIU, phone-calling on GOTV efforts, and speaking out on the myriad of other issues affecting hard working Minnesotans.

SEIU’s focus this year is much bigger than a single candidate or single election. In fact, SEIU, and members like James Guy are working hard to ensure that not only leaders who represent the 99% are elected to office but they are elected on a mandate for decision makers to enact policies that benefit the 99% so that we all win good jobs and advance a vision for America where everyone prospers, not just a few.

“Our engagement should not begin and end by showing up to the voting booth,” he adds. “We need to be informed on the issues and do our part to turn out members who will help elect leaders who will represent the needs and best interests of the 99% not just the richest 1% in this country.”

SEIU members identify as Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Our focus is on the issues, not on the political party. We are proud to stand with candidates who stand with us.

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Mobilizing for Health Care Justice

This year, working families have seen an unprecedented level of attacks on everything from voting rights to civil rights to women’s rights and attacks on basic healthcare. That’s why Healthcare Minnesota’s outgoing elected President, Julie Schnell and soon-to-be new President Jamie Gulley are working hard to ensure members are not only informed about the issues but also fully engaged in this year’s election process.

“We are working hard to support our members’ choices in electing leaders who support the best interests of the 99%,” says Gulley.  “After all, investing in healthcare and other services for those in need is one of the main four tenets of SEIU’s election mandate this year,” Schnell adds.  The other three are to elected leaders who will:

  • Create good jobs here at home;
  • Rebuild an economy where everyone pays their fair share;
  • Create a fair pathway to citizenship for every immigrant worker.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said at a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966: “Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

With the Affordable Care Act recently being held up by the Supreme Court, and one of the latest provisions–access to no-cost contraception–rolled out on August 1, the members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota have great steps ahead of them this election year, and beyond, towards achieving health justice. SEIU is committed to moving this state and our country forward, while opponents in Congress and statehouses across the country will continue in their efforts to repeal laws, waste time, and deny common-sense healthcare and fairness.

“We are well-positioned to educate and empower our members this year,” says Gulley.  “Julie and I are working to enable our members to take advantage of the opportunities to get involved, via support from the union.”

This election year, we have to be united in our fight to move the nation forward. “This means a robust defense of the Affordable Care Act so that we can move toward full implementation,” says Schnell.  “And to re-elect and elect champions of health care, “ adds Gulley.

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SEIU Healthcare MN Member, Lyz Martin Working To Turn Out Young Voters

Member Profile:

Lyz Martin, 25
Dietary Aide at Mercy Hospital, Minneapolis

SEIU Member, Lyz Martin, working at SEIU MN State Council office

In 2008, the last U.S. Presidential Election year, voters under 30 formed about 17 percent of the electorate. They cast twice as many ballots for Obama as for John McCain. By contrast, only half of voters over 30 backed the Democratic nominee. It was the biggest generation gap in four decades of modern election polling.

Almost four years later, speculation is rising that stubbornly high unemployment among 20- to 24-year-olds – at 9.3 percent for college graduates and 12.9 percent overall – will cause them to abandon the voting booth in November by simply staying home.
SEIU member, Lyz Martin, 25, sees the trend herself. “Nobody in my generation and circle of friends is doing this yet,” she says. By “this” she means devoting the next few months to nothing but working to organize union members, especially those who are younger, to get involved now and up until Election Day.  Martin, who works as a dietary aide at Mercy Hospital in the metro region, says what motivated her to become involved as a, “lost timer” to engage in GOTV work this summer/fall is the same thing that motivated her to join the union.  “For so long I knew I wanted to be active, but did not know where to begin,” she says. “But my union gave me a way to get involved because leadership actually sought me out to engage me. And it mattered to me that they did so because for the first time I felt that being a young, Native American female who is tattooed and opinionated meant I was seen for my opinions and talents and skills that I have to offer.”
What does she have to say about news about the potential for a disenfranchised youth voting bloc?  “In 2008 we voted and played our part,” Martin says. “Then many of us shifted or drifted. But the bottom line is we need to make connections with each other, educate ourselves, move onward and stay involved,” she adds.

The main issues Martin is speaking out on are wrapped up in the 99% agenda which includes good jobs now, making the rich and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes, providing critical services for all people, and creating a fair pathway to citizenship for every immigrant worker in America.

SEIU members identify as Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Our focus is on the issues, not on the political party. We are proud to stand with candidates who stand with us.

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$290 dollars a Week is Not a Family-sustaining Wage

This week (July 24) marks the 3rd anniversary since raising the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour. Imagine, that’s only $290 dollars a week (Gross) working for 40 hours a week. That amounts to just over $15,000 a year for a full-time worker, a total yearly salary that comes in at more than $7,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of four. It’s a far cry from a family-sustaining wage that Minnesotans can thrive on. In fact, there likely is not one member of Congress voting against the raise that could live on that income for a week—let alone make the car payment on their four-wheel import with it

Although the federal minimum wage hasn’t kept up with inflation, CEO pay has increased 725% over the last 30 years and 80% of all real income growth has gone to the richest 1% of Americans. We have some serious catching up to do if we’re going to make our country a place where people who work for a living can actually live off those wages and support their families.

The “Catching Up to 1968 Act of 2012” not only would increase the minimum wage it would mandate that the minimum wage be automatically adjusted to meet rising inflation each year.

SEIU locals are participating with Minnesotans for a Fair Economy in drawing attention to the issue and to ask Minnesota Congressional Representatives to support the Minimum Wage Increase being called for in legislation that will raise the federal minimum wage to $10 hour.

As of last year, 5.2 percent of hourly paid workers in the United States, or about 3.8 million people, were compensated at or below the federal minimum wage, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Congress has bailed out Banks, bailed out Wall Street and supports tax loopholes for the richest 1% in America.  It’s time Congress bail out hardworking families not able to survive on minimum wage jobs. And, raising the wage not only helps workers more able to make ends meet on necessities it puts more spending money in their pocketbooks—and that’s good for the overall economy.

Please Take a Moment NOW!

Your ACTION is need NOW. Click here to send a letter to your member of Congress today!

$290 dollars a week is not family-sustaining:  Urge Your Congressional Representative to Raise the Federal Minimum Wage!


Get more information

Read More at Minnesotans for a Fair Economy 

Read a Recent Report on Raising the Minimum Wage

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SEIU Members Support Co-Worker in Dramatic Stand for Human Rights

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota member Dorjee Gyalpo, 59, returns to his job with the Abbott Northwestern Hospital Environmental Service Department this week after travelling and spending several weeks away. But his trip to New York City was no vacation.

Gyalpo was one of three Tibetan men who launched an indefinite hunger strike on February 22nd in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York in an ultimately successful effort to ask the UN to investigate atrocities committed by the Chinese government in Tibet and highlight the conditions that led 30 Tibetans in their homeland to self-immolate as a form of protest.

After 27 days without food, Gyalpo was forcibly remove from the strike venue and hospitalized by the New York City police. But Gyalpo continued fasting at the hospital for three more days, until Richard Bennett, special adviser to the UN assistant secretary general on human rights, came out to meet with the two hunger strikers who remained in front of the U.N. building. When Bennett agreed to appoint a special rapporteur for human rights to investigate their concerns about human rights violations in Tibet, the hunger strikers ended their life threatening fast.

Fellow SEIU Healthcare Minnesota members in Abbott Hospital donated more than 400 hours of Personal Time Off to allow Gyalpo to leave work and recover from the hunger strike—others had pledge to donate more hours if necessary. He says that along with the solidarity of his diverse coworkers, the health benefits guaranteed in his union contract made it possible for him to participate in the dramatic stand for international human rights.

“I am proud to be a SEIU member. I am grateful and very inspired by my sisters and brothers at Abbott who supported and stood by me,” said Gyalpo, who has worked at Fairview since 1996. He escaped to India after the Chinese invasion of his native Tibet in 1959 and migrated to the United States in 1992.

Read more about the successful hunger strike and see photos here.

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