Minnesota AFL-CIO 2020 Campaigns Conference

Stand Up…and Fight Back -  Feb 6th and 7th, 2020 

Delta Hotel, Minneapolis


There is much to say about the Conference.  I have been to many union conferences, confabs and conventions during my labor life.  As a matter of fact I was pretty good at escaping after lunch.  This conference was the best I ever attended and I didn’t leave early.

The staff of the State AFL-CIO did a spectacular job of corralling the job diversities of the 216 in attendance.  The table I sat at had notable union musicians, building trades and service workers.  We shared our stories of labor strife and victories.  At the end we hugged because we are all in it together.

The AFL-CIO staff designed a conference agenda that was informative, educational and fast moving.  As far as I am concerned it was their best effort ever.

Personal privilege, I must share with you the Retiree Council’s workshops:

  • One thing about retirees (besides being old) is we all have numerous talents.  The first workshop we did was Retiree Activism – Voter Registration.  Now I know what you are thinking … how can anyone sit through a workshop on voter registration?  This workshop was led by Martha Johnson.  There was a speaker from the Secretary of State’s office who explained the registration form and process. We went into overtime to answer the many questions from the knowledgeable and curious retirees. I suspect we gave out over 300 registration forms for people to take to their groups.  Participants had a chance to develop their ideas on how to register the way-too-many unregistered union retirees.

  • The second retiree workshop was called Retiree Activism – Organizing Conversations.  It was led by retiree Leif Grina. Brother Grina did a terrific job of leading the audience to have conversations that resulted in a commitment to volunteer to register voters. 

  • The coordination of retiree workshops was guided by AFL-CIO Field Director Pommella Wegmann.  She provided information about the importance of registration and the numbers of union retirees we need to register. Thanks, Pommella, for your help.

Most important to many of us at the Conference is the ‘messaging’ outline we can use for Labor 2020.  Previously many progressives have asked “what is our message?”.   If we can’t break through the toxic rhetoric used to divide working people we are in trouble. The conference closing offered new concepts and a pathway to create a message that works.  I am looking forward to the future.

Respectfully submitted,

Bruce Yernberg  




175 Aurora Ave, St Paul, MN 55103


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