Being the best representative of labor


Sometimes tough questions that I ask might seem like I am opposed to something when I am not. In a DFL endorsement race, we want candidates who handle tough questions and meet two goals at once. For example, Jim Carlson, the Eagan state senator, tells a wonderful 3M story where he used the best design and technology to produce the lowest cost per item (even against Chinese competition) with good labor wages and benefits.

Last night I heard that we staff our schools with people paid with 10 month contracts that leaves people with a 2 month gap that is both hard to fill with paying work and is also not covered by unemployment benefits. At the same time, two-parent working families are struggling to have care for children in that 2 month gap. We have talked about how children forget and fall behind in that same 2 month gap. To me, it seems obvious me that rather than extending unemployment, we should look to extending school to a full year. Then we would reduce costs for society as a whole and increase benefits to all by adding more weeks to our school year. By the way, I am NOT saying that we should just take the current weeks and spread them around – that is bogus. Here is an “AND” solution that would best represent labor.

Another example is my question on how we handle accountability issues with teachers. I am again looking for “AND” answers that meet multiple goals at once. I have noticed that principals do not have time to visit classrooms and coach the way that was intended. How then do we get the constant feedback and good coaching that is needed to ensure that all new teachers become great teachers? One answer is team teaching with a experienced good teacher and a new teacher. Another answer is having more feedback in a 360 degree way, which includes online input from parents. Another way is specific training in target areas for teachers. Maybe the student is in a class that needs reading capability that student doesn’t have. In which case, a reading tutor for the student would be the better solution rather than focusing on the teacher.

The point is that Republicans have locked the accountability issue into a hire/fire issue when it is not. We need labor advocates who do more than have a good labor voting record. We need labor candidates who are leaders when comes to “AND” solutions. We need labor candidates who speak well to the accountability issue, so we leave no ground for Republicans to stand on.

For example, St Paul School candidate Jean O’Connell impressed me as presenting solutions that meet multiple goals and is therefore being a better representative of labor. She included in the new technology idea that teacher training for technology is equally available everywhere. I really like that she had a goal to have a happier more-connected group of employees in the St Paul District, with specific ideas.

I really want the “labor” in DFL to be very proactive. Except for the rich 2% and retired, we are all labor. Lets go beyond labor voting records and labor simple cheerleading talk. Let’s ask really the hard questions that give us the best labor representatives.