OPINION | Mark Andrew for mayor

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The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO is heading into the Labor Day holiday with a newly-endorsed candidate for mayor of Minneapolis: Mark Andrew.

We look forward to working with Mark Andrew to address the inequities in employment and education in Minneapolis that create barriers to opportunity.

In endorsing Mark Andrew, we’re endorsing a longtime friend of Labor who welcomes Labor as a partner in moving our city forward to create economic opportunity for all.

I want to share what took place during this year’s endorsement process.

Candidates who seek MRLF endorsement must complete a thorough questionnaire. The questionnaire includes a long list of questions about the candidate’s priorities, their views on important local labor issues and city issues, and how they plan to organize a winning campaign.

Members of our Committee on Political Education craft the questions and then carefully review the candidates’ responses.

Our MRLF executive board, acting as COPE, then brings the candidates in one at a time to our conference room to question them face to face. This is an important step in taking stock of the candidates.

At the same time that the MRLF is going through its endorsement process, candidates also may be seeking endorsements from some of our affiliates one by one.

This year, with so many well-known candidates in the race for Minneapolis mayor — and no DFL endorsement — we faced a difficult choice. Early on, our affiliates split their individual union endorsements. Even after screening mayoral candidates July 9-10, we still had many affiliates undecided about the mayor’s race.

August 12 the MRLF hosted a mayoral candidates forum so that affiliates could learn more about the four major candidates. We had a great turnout of union members and a lively debate between the candidates. Questions prepared by our affiliates grilled candidates about the issues. Differences between the candidates became clearer. The debate helped move many affiliates towards a decision.

Two days later, August 14, our executive board met before the MRLF delegate meeting to consider whether or not the MRLF was ready to endorse for mayor. I’m proud of our board. For 90 minutes, we had a thoughtful discussion and a respectful debate.

We started out talking about the relative merits of the candidates. But then the discussion shifted to the MRLF’s role as an umbrella organization of 125 affiliated unions. Endorsing candidates for local elections is the MRLF’s job. For a race as important as mayor of Minneapolis, we need to be active and engaged as a labor movement. If a clear majority of affiliates support a candidate, we need to come together and support that candidate.

The discussion moved the undecided. In the end, the board overwhelmingly voted to recommend endorsing Mark Andrew for mayor of Minneapolis. A few minutes later, a standing-room-only turnout at the MRLF delegate meeting approved that recommendation with a resounding voice vote.

Our unions have spoken. Now let’s do the work to elect Mark Andrew mayor of Minneapolis November 5!