Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

The MRLF Questionnaire is not publicly published,
but I wanted to share my answers with you:

I am and I do currently advocate for all the MRLF principles.  I am the only candidate I’ve heard take on the anti-union Loppet agreement. Working class families are under attack by forces wishing to aim the value and benefits of our park system toward powerful foundations and organizations instead of where the value of our parks belong, in the lives of Minneapolis workers and residents.

I’m fighting for livable wages, fair hiring and promotion practices, and worker safety. I’m advocating for a more transparent and publicly accountable process for negotiating collective bargaining agreements and park system budgets.  I’m working to highlight front-line staff’s needs and uplift the stories and circumstances of maintenance, operations, and recreation staff.

I’m a outspoken supporter on behalf of the $15 NOW campaign and I will work for a $15 minimum wage for all employees at MPRB.  

I am a landscaper.  I’ve worked every season for the last 20 years outside in all conditions with my crews.  I know what hard work means and because of this I highly value and appreciate park staff.  I’m ready to fight for the health and happiness of park workers and all working class families and residents of Minneapolis.

I commit to fighting the erroneously named “right to work” policies supported by Republicans.  I’ll use all the tools below plus whatever bully pulpit I can develop over time as a commissioner to uplift the needs of workers, fight anti-union policies like right-to-work, and win a $15 minimum wage for all park employees including seasonal and part-time.

Some examples may include:

  • Using the influence of the Park Board with state and national leaders
  • Leveraging your connections with community leaders, industry leaders, major employers and local philanthropic organizations
  • Submitting comments to departments and courts in support of collective bargaining and repr
    esentation cases
  • Using pro-union language in your public communications to counter paid media campaigns against unions
  • Helping to elect statewide leaders who can stop Right to Work policies by mobilizing Minneapolis voters

I will work with union leaders, temporary employees, and commissioners to shine a light on the issues faced by MPRB employees. Livable wages, fair hiring and promotion practices, and worker safety are at the top of my agenda to work on if I am elected.  I have heard from many employees of MPRB as I’ve been campaigning.  Over and over again people are letting me know that there seem to be a lack of advocates for park laborers within the park board of commissioners.  

I would like to immediately begin working with staff to strengthen worker safety protections and improve conditions, wages, benefits, and communications between staff, management, and the board.  I have been working with staff who have faced discrimination to understand how we can shift dynamics at MPRB in order to develop a park system that pays workers competitive wages and honors their dedicated work.  

Additionally it’s time for a more transparent and publicly accountable process for negotiating collective bargaining agreements. Management must be held accountable to appropriate timelines for collective bargaining and workers need to be able to negotiate with elected officials who are accountable to the public instead of negotiating solely with unelected management.  

I don’t have all the answers to all the issues facing park employees, but I’m willing to listen and work on the issues most important to employees.  In my time as a volunteer on park advisory bodies I’ve noticed that staff from planning and other administrators have a disproportionate influence on the decision making process while front line staff who work in community and have their boots on the ground are routinely ignored in decision making.  

I will prioritize front-line staff’s needs and uplift the stories and circumstances of these staff.  We need to empower the staff who work directly with park visitors to be able to influence decision making.  We need to celebrate staff more and grow a stronger park system by working to understand operations and rec staff’s needs and uplifting their voices.

I have been the only park board candidate who has been vocal on MPRB's Operating Agreement with the Loppet Foundation that outsources Union work.  As soon as I started bringing up the Loppet agreement in my campaign, influential political figures in Minneapolis began calling me a liar.  I stand by my statements that the Loppet has no idea how to operate the equipment, manage the space, and handle the many overlapping interests of stakeholders at Theo Wirth.  

The loss of union jobs is a direct attack on our park system, the working people of Minneapolis, and the moral of park employees.  I will work to involve the ACLU and any attorneys that the union may wish to involve in order to open up this horrible contract and renegotiate the terms so that union employees reclaim their duties at Theo Wirth.  

The foundation has stolen the people’s assets and then turned around and offered these assets back to the people of Minneapolis for a fee as though this was a form of charity. Contracting this park’s assets away from the people of Minneapolis, eliminating union jobs, then profiting from this arrangement is not charity, it’s piracy, it’s looting on a grand scale, and it must be reversed. The parks belong to the people of Minneapolis, and the foundations in this city should be here to serve the people, not the other way around. The theft of public assets and the destruction of union jobs from the Loppet Agreement must be stopped and policy put in place at the MPRB to ensure this never happens again.

I’m ready to expose the neo-liberal agenda that has led to the stadium give-away, the loss of Theodore Wirth Park, and damage to hard working families in Minneapolis.  This agreement must go.

Yet, there are types of public / private partnerships that result in a healthier Minneapolis and a better economy for working class residents and workers. One great way for us to understand whether we’re designing an agreement that will work for working families is to find out where the unions stand on the agreement.  If the union has hesitation or concerns, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

I’ve been a vocal supporter of the $15 NOW campaign on WCCO radio, in the Star Tribune, and by hosting a $15 NOW fundraiser. We pay our administrators and attorneys incredible amounts of money while park workers suffer in low wage positions.  It’s time to reverse this, eliminate administrative bloat, and pay front-line staff, maintenance, operations, and recreation workers livable wages.  I will work for a $15 minimum wage at MPRB.  

Our current pay scales take advantage of workers who are making the city a healthier, more livable place.  I will work to reverse this trend and leverage the influence of the MPRB to uplift the standards for employees across MN.

I would advocate to go beyond ensuring that corporations that receive publicly funded subsidies be required to pay a living wage to include ensuring that companies and non-profits that the MPRB contracts with be required to pay a living wage as well.

I support a municipal minimum wage policy 100%! The time is now.  

It’s time to work alongside unions and community organizations to re-prioritize parks spending.  We need a park system that uplifts workers instead of exploiting workers.  It’s time to end the discriminatory requirement for a 4 year degree to be a park director, this is just one of the many ways we can actively work towards a more equitable staff promotion policy.  It’s time to begin learning from staff and working with union leadership to improve conditions for workers throughout the park system.

And it’s time to have a public discussion that exposes exactly where all park system money is spent with a breakdown of staffing, admin, neighborhoods, recreation by type, and park districts.  Until we’re all looking at the same set of numbers the people of Minneapolis won’t understand how their money is or isn’t being spent to advance racial equity.

I will work to grow employment opportunities for young people of color that put them on a training path for advancement.  It’s also time to take a look at the work being done by volunteers in our park system.  Volunteerism for very short term work is appropriate, but when volunteers replace paid workers this amounts to a stealing of labor from the working class by those who have the privileges of wealth and can afford to work for free.  We need to make sure that all our internships are paid living wages as well.  

I’ve witnessed groups who would like to work to make their parks better and more accessible be dismissed and attacked by commissioners.  The parks aren’t the property of commissioners, they belong to the people of Minneapolis.  When residents organize themselves to be able to effect change at their parks, it’s time for commissioners to engage with those organizations and residents.  

I stood with 3 women in county court who were arrested for speaking up for a better park system.  Something has gone terribly wrong with our park board when residents who work to make a better park system are arrested for speaking up at a park board meeting.  I would work to remove physical barriers placed in the park board meeting room, change rules for speaking time, and slow down park board meeting processes when residents and workers are in disagreement with the direction the park board is heading.  The most important feedback the park board can receive is from the employees of MPRB and the most economically vulnerable residents in the city.

In addition to changes at park board meetings, I will work to engage community members from all backgrounds at their neighborhood parks in a variety of ways including face to face meetings when issues that affect their parks are on the agenda. Community engagement needs to be real and not just something to write in annual reports. 

Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

Learn more: The Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MRLF) represents over 75,000 union members and their families throughout the 7-county West Metro.  175 unions affiliate with the MRLF.  The MRLF serves Anoka, Carver, Hennepin, McLeod, Meeker, Scott, and Wright Counties.  Nearly 20,000 union members are registered voters in the city of Minneapolis.

Visit their website here: www.minneapolisunions.org.