Minnesota Public Services to Resume – but Problems Remain

by Clyde Weiss  |  July 21, 2011

Council 5 Exec. Dir. Eliot Seide
AFSCME Council 5 Exec. Dir. Eliot Seide speaks at a St. Paul rally demanding an end to the Minnesota government shutdown. (Photo by Steve Woit)

The 20-day state-government shutdown in Minnesota that left residents without vital public services is now over. A new budget deal, approved by lawmakers Tuesday night and signed by the governor, ends the rancor, but it does not resolve the state’s critical problems.

Public service workers “are relieved” that they “will be able to take care of Minnesota again,” says Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, and also an AFSCME International vice president. “Our jobs and collective bargaining rights survived a fierce attack by a gridlock group of Republicans who believe government should be demonized, starved or privatized.”

But Seide noted that “Republicans protected millionaires instead of Minnesotans. Their shutdown laid off 22,000 people instead of creating jobs. They ruined family vacations at state parks, delayed road construction, made beer lovers go thirsty, and they disrupted people’s lives in countless ways.  Now their painful budget robs the future to pay for today.  Minnesotans don’t want to keep kicking the deficit down the road; they want a solution that requires the rich to pay their fair share.”

That’s why Council 5, the state’s largest union of public service workers (including 10,000 who were laid off during the shutdown) plans to ramp up it’s “Tax the Rich” campaign at the State Fair, from Aug. 25 to Labor Day.

“Once again, AFSCME members are doing their part to make Minnesota a state that works,” says Seide. “That’s a stark contrast with the Republican legislative leaders who created a state that didn’t work for 20 days.” 

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