USE AND PROTECT YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE
What a contrast. As a diverse group of thousands of Americans celebrated the amazing life of voting rights champion Representative John Lewis—the first black Congressman to lay in state in the Capitol-- the current White House resident-in-chief was plotting to delay the November election, manipulating the USPS to undermine faith in the mail ballot process, and announcing “suburbanites will no longer be bothered by low income housing”. Never has our constitutional right to vote been more important. President Ken McInnis reflects here on our rights and responsibilities in voting. Read President Emeritus Dan Mikel’s review of changes in voting rights since 1776 and their current state here. There are many important races in this election cycle, but none can be more critical than electing a proven leader to the presidency instead of risking four more years of a dangerous divider and destroyer.
VOTE IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION 8-11
If you have not already cast your vote in the 8-11 Primary election, if your ballot is sitting on the dining room table, fill it out and mail it now! Review details of voting by mail, in-person absentee, or on election day here
There is an important primary in CD 5 where Rep. Ihlan Omar, our MN AFL-CIO endorsed candidate for re-election, is being challenged by a well-financed lawyer who has worked for an anti-union law firm. Rep. Omar has been a friend to labor and a fighter for the interests of her diverse district. Click here for a Huffpost article about the contest and research about her opponent. Please check this list of Minnesota AFL-CIO endorsed candidates when you are deciding which candidates to vote for.
PREPARE TO VOTE IN THE NOV. 3 GENERAL ELECTION
The challenges to voter access created by the pandemic are daunting, but not insurmountable. Because many election judge volunteers are elderly, they will not be able to work this year. Because we cannot predict what the COVID spread will be on 11-3, waiting until election day to vote could create a risk of COVID exposure. There could be long lines at the polls. Casting an absentee ballot by mail is the safest way to vote. We'll send you an Action Alert in early September, reminding you to request your ballot for the Nov. 3 General Election. Absentee voting (in person or by mail) begins Sept. 18.
OUR ELECTION WORK TO DO
We have much work to do through Labor 2020 to elect our endorsed candidates. Election Work Coordinator Carol Freeman outlines the specific work groups and their tasks here. The MN AFL-CIO is offering Zoom Campaign Schools to inform us about the Labor 2020 program, its messages and tools. Each Area Labor Council (ALC) or Regional Labor Federation (RLF) will have a School for its geographic area.
The Retiree Council will have a School to address more specific plans for our Labor 2020 program. This Retiree School on Tuesday, September 15 will also include an election of one half of the Directors of the Retiree Council Board. Watch our website mnretired.org for details of registration. Each affiliate should be receiving a letter from President Ken McInnis about this soon. We urge you to attend both the School for your area and the Retiree School. By selecting your ALC/RLF here, you will find the time of the School, and you can register. If you need to check the geographic area of the ALC/RLFs, click here.
A new effort in this cycle is the 20 Friends Project which will invite State Retiree Council and affiliate retiree leaders and activists to have regular conversations with 20 friends between now and Nov. 4, about the election and voting. These conversations will include “asks” to volunteer to work to turn out an historic vote. WE CAN DO IT!!!
COVID 19’S CURRENT RAMIFICATIONS
The US House has passed a HEROES Act that includes extension of the $600 weekly Unemployment Insurance supplement that ended 7-25-20 for 25.6 million unemployed Americans. The House bill also includes another one-time stimulus check for most Americans; student loan relief; Hazard Pay for essential workers; financial relief for renters and homeowners facing crisis; money for the USPS and state and local governments. The US Senate wants to eliminate or greatly reduce most of these provisions and add an onerous item – the Trust Act. President McInnis reports on the Trust Act here.
Senator Tina Smith met with the MN AFL-CIO on Zoom to hear labor’s concerns and talk about the chances for the HEROES Act in the Senate. You can see a video of the meeting here.
You can also go to the AFL-CIO site here and generate phone calls or letters to support a responsible HEROES Act, without the TRUST act and urge financial support for the USPS, and/or Hazard Pay for workers.
Our own legislature is also struggling with economic impacts of COVID and has not produced the help needed. Read MN AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy’s statement on the most recent Special Session’s “work” here.
There will be another Special Session in August but the Republican Senate is obstructing the needed bonding projects and other projects that would help the economy because they think it helps their politics.
Governor Walz announced return to school recommendations on Thursday July 30. Features include local decision-making using guidelines based on infection rate. The rate is then attached to in-person, hybrid or distance learning recommendations based on the ages of students. It’s complex. You can see an explanation of the plan here.
Education Minnesota issued a generally positive statement in reaction to the plan that you can read here.
In a recent survey of 20,000 Minnesota teachers, 49% prefer distance learning this fall, while 46% favor a hybrid or complete in person return with adequate safety provisions. Only 17% wanted the full in-person return. There is more on the survey here.
Returning students, teachers and staff to school in a pandemic would be hard in any case, but the current trends of COVID statistics are somewhat alarming and that creates even more tension. You can review the statistics at the COVID dashboard here.
In addition to the unceasing harassment by the President, the American press is suffering from great economic pressure due to the pandemic. Some papers are ceasing publication and most are laying off staff. You can read here about specific pandemic impacts. This has also resulted in federal support to hundreds of newspapers through the PPP program, detailed here.
Retiree Council Board member Bruce Yernberg has been “feeling the pain” on a personal level and tells that tale here.
Governor Walz recently issued a mandate for masks to be worn inside public spaces. Although public polling shows around 75% of Minnesota adults had worn a mask outside their home in the prior week, there is much noise from some Republicans (and Libertarians) that this is unnecessary and an additional example of Walz exceeding his authority. Many unions exerted pressure for Walz to issue the mandate in order to protect all workers as the number of new COVID cases is rising. The Anoka County Sheriff says he will not enforce the law. Businesses are generally supportive because they want safe workplaces. MASKS SAVE LIVES!!
FUN(D) RAISER RAFFLE AUG. 17
The statewide raffle that would have been held in conjunction with the Retiree Council’s cancelled Fun(d) Raiser will be held Monday, August 17 at 11 a.m. at the MN AFL CIO office. It will be live streamed on our Facebook page and posted on our YouTube channel. Prizes of $500, $300, $150 and $100 will be awarded. Thanks to all who supported us by buying tickets or making donations. NEXT YEAR WE WILL BE TOGETHER! We hope!
2020 CENSUS UPDATE
Reaching out to count people has become even more important as the Trump administration is attempting to prevent counting of undocumented immigrants. Minnesota’s current response rate is about 72%. You can check out exact areas’ return rate with an interactive map here. Census workers are expected to begin door knocking Tues., August 11. (Yes, that is Primary Election Day.) COMPLETED YOUR CENSUS? NO? CALL 844-330-2020
USEFUL LINKS FOR RETIREES
A link to free Zoom exercise classes for Seniors. Juniper is the name here
The Metropolitan Agency on Aging here.
RETIREE COUNCIL WEBSITE SHOWCASES VIDEOS WE PRODUCE
Our new website at https://www.mnretired.org/ with big elder-friendly typefaces and pictures is now up and going. One of the site’s best features is a page with our most current videotapes here. There are three short tapes with Senator Matt Klein about Health Care Access and a tape on the 2020 Census with Elaine Rothman chair of the MRRC Census Committee. Check it out!