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AFSCME Members in Minnesota: We’re Fighting for the Middle Class

by Gonzalo Baeza  |  March 31, 2011

AFSCME Florida Lobby Day
RAISE REVENUE, DON’T CUT SERVICES – AFSCME Council 5 members delivered a giant check in the amount of $3.2 billion to Minnesota Gov. Mike Dayton. That’s the additional amount in state income tax that people making over $130,000 a year would pay — if they paid the same effective tax rate as everyone else. (Photo courtesy Council 5)

Minnesota has become one of the latest battlegrounds in the fight against the corporate-backed, anti-union forces that want to do away with the middle class.

In order to balance the budget, the Minnesota state legislature is trying to enact draconian cuts to state programs while freezing the salaries of public service workers for two years.

But AFSCME members in Minnesota have vowed not to let these Wisconsin-style attacks go unanswered. A record number of more than 1,500 Council 5 public workers recently flooded the Capitol rotunda for a massive Day on the Hill event. AFSCME activists met with their state legislators to let them know what their real priorities should be, including protecting the essential services that families need the most during this crisis and raising revenue, including fair taxation on the wealthy and corporations.

To stress the importance of the state’s revenue problem, Council 5 members produced a series of giant checks for the amount of $3.2 billion – the estimated amount of money that Minnesota could raise in state income tax if individuals making more than $130,000 a year would pay the same effective tax rate as middle income families.

According to a recent study from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, the state’s highest-income taxpayers – the 10 percent of households earning more than $130,000 – pay an effective tax rate of 10.3 percent. In contrast, the other 90 percent of households pay a considerably higher tax rate of 12.3 percent.

As Local 221 member Mike Lindholt, a snowplow driver for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, told the crowd at the rotunda:

“This is not just an assault on union members and public employees. It’s an assault on the middle class.”

For more on Minnesota workers’ fight for dignity, check out this photo gallery and watch a video from the Day on the Hill event:

Next: New Haven, Conn.: Thousands Rally in Solidarity with Workers under Siege
Previous: Michiganders: Change Constitution to Protect Collective Bargaining

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