In recent weeks, we’re celebrating several long-anticipated grand opening events: the new Minneapolis Downtown Library, the new Guthrie Theater, the expanded Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Midtown Exchange. We’re also celebrating legislative decisions that will lead to future groundbreakings and grand openings for the new Minnesota Twins ballpark, the new University of Minnesota football stadium, and the Northstar Commuter Rail line. Each of these community investments represents gains for labor and for the entire community, metro region, and state.
Building new cultural institutions brought not only union construction jobs but also new facilities where union members will work as librarians, clerical staff, stagehands, actors, costume-makers, and security guards, to name a just a few.
The Midtown Exchange, the mammoth redevelopment of the former Sears complex at Lake and Chicago, brought together public, private, and nonprofit partners. Union building trades workers gutted and restored the landmark Sears structure. Union public employees will staff a new Hennepin County Service Center located there. Union hotel and restaurant workers will staff the new Sheraton Hotel at the site. And union transit workers will bring visitors to the development’s new transit station.
(See pages 7 and 12 for more on Midtown Exchange).
When trains start rolling on the Northstar Commuter Rail line, and when the Twins and Gophers start playing at their new stadiums, union building trades workers and other workers will know what all these investments represent: jobs.
Thanks go to the elected officials —local, state and federal — who help make these community investments possible. And, in this election year, that’s one very important reminder why we need to elect friends of labor to public office.
Bill McCarthy is president of the Minneapolis Central Labor Union Council.