ST. PAUL (WCCO) – Hundreds of Minnesotans marched from the St. Paul Cathedral to the State Capitol Monday in what they’re calling, “We are One: March for the Middle Class.”
Labor leaders say the march, which also commemorates the 43rd anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, is to raise awareness for what they say are anti-union efforts almost half a century later.
The state public workers’ union has a connection to the garbage workers in Memphis, Tenn., who King supported before he was murdered 43 years ago. He went to Memphis to organize garbage workers trying to join the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
At a rally for social workers, Gov. Mark Dayton promised to stop what he said is legislation dismantling union progress, using the continuing labor unrest in Wisconsin as an example.
“I’m not going to let Minnesota be stampeded as it was in Wisconsin,” he said.
Minnesota is, however, facing a record budget deficit. Republicans who control the House and Senate are moving quickly to trim business taxes and cut government spending. There are numerous bills at the Capitol cutting worker benefits and trimming the state workforce.
On Monday, a report from the Dayton administration says that 1,000 Minnesota state employees opted for early retirement program, which saved the state an estimated $47 million.