A BRAVE NEW WORLD
We hope you and your loved ones are dealing with the STAY HOME order and social distancing without too much difficulty. Governor Walz has extended the original March 26 STAY HOME order through May 18. The new order allows as many as 30,000 additional retail employees to work at curbside pickup and delivery jobs. Up to 100,000 may have returned to work April 27 in offices and manufacturing facilities. You can see Governor Walz explain here.
Wearing of masks in public spaces is the biggest change for our current everyday lives.
More diagnostic tests are being given every day so more cases of coronavirus are being found. Deaths also continue an upward trend. Information on all these items can be found through the Governor’s Dashboard here.
The Minnesota AFL-CIO has a worker’s resource site here that answers almost any question a worker could have.
Governor Walz and his team have continued to provide thoughtful, data-driven, collaborative and empathetic leadership. Thank you, Governor Walz. Now the example we Minnesotans must set is to stand in unity, take care of ourselves, thank and support our working heroes, and help as we can those who are suffering physical, emotional and economic consequences of the pandemic. WE CAN DO IT!
BREAKING MINNESOTA NEWS!!! The Minnesota Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA) is considering filing a lawsuit to ensure easy voting access for Minnesotans so they can vote and still protect their health during the upcoming elections. Click here to read the resolution the Retiree Council Board passed and carried forward to the Minnesota AFL-CIO Executive Board which also passed it. This issue, so critical to seniors in this difficult time, is now part of the MN AFL-CIO Legislative Agenda. Go for it ARA!
FROM RETIREE LEADERS IN THEIR LAWN CHAIRS....
With the arrival of warmer weather, Retiree Council leaders have moved from their STAY HOME sofa perches to their lawn chairs to do their heavy thinking. Here’s the results:
President Ken McInnis gets worked up by the even greater inequities created by the pandemic and the need for mail ballot elections here.
Vice President Louise Sundin thinks about the needs of our dogs at this different time here.
Election Work Coordinator Carol Freeman reports on Labor 2020activities so far and wonders about the future here.
Federal Issues Chair Tim Gella tells us about a virtual town hall meeting held by Representative Tom Emmer here.
Board Director Bruce Yernberg has been leading a “Letter to the Editor” initiative about mail ballot voting and shares his letter to his Minnesota House Representative here.
President Emeritus Martha Johnson reflects on the effects of the pandemic on senior citizens here.
The number and severity of coronavirus impacts are too many to report here. Many relate to the tension between protecting health versus minimizing economic losses. See the AFL-CIOs’ list of items that must be in place before people can safely return to work later in this newsletter. Some examples of various situations:
In the wake of temporary and some permanent closures of meat and poultry processing plants due to COVID outbreaks in them, President Trump issued an order banning any state from ordering these plants to close. The United Food and Commercial Workers issued this statement demanding worker protections in these plants. A sad Minnesota example of this safety-economy tension exists at JBS in Worthington where the plant was temporarily closed when 400 workers tested positive. Read about trying to resolve the return to work issues including the perspectives of Governor Walz and Representative Collin Peterson here.
SAVE THE USPS
The United States Postal Service must have support from the next stimulus bill. The pandemic-induced loss of revenue facing the USPS is no less dramatic than for airlines and other corporations. The Postal Service needs the same level of assistance. You can do your part to help the Postal Service by sending an e-letter in support of the USPS here. Retired American Postal Workers Union activist Cathy Hansen has written a background of the issues leading to this conflict you can read here. Then send a letter via US mail using one of your favorite stamps to your US Representative and both of Minnesota's US Senators. Find their addresses here.
OLDER WORKERS ISSUES
Numbers of workers are defined as “vulnerable” to COVID. Many due to age. Because of the kinds of jobs they occupy, few are able to work from home and face greater health risk from continuing to work because of age or health condition. The Economic Policy Institute has researched this issue. Read about it here.
SOME GOOD RESULTS...and an unfortunate delay
The pressure to be safe at work during the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of unions. An article from Commonwealth discusses the power difference between organized and unorganized workers here. Political organizers in Wisconsin working in the mid-pandemic primary share some of the things they learned and thoughts about the need for mail ballot elections here. Some important issues, like the development and implementation of rules for Minnesota’s assisted living facilities, are being put on hold. See a Star-Tribune article here.
IN MEMORIAM: Harry McAllister
In the week leading up to the morning of April 19, Minneapolis Regional Retiree Council member, Harry McAllister, was diagnosed with COVID-19. Daughter Mariana was allowed to hold his hand as he passed from a coma to beyond. Growing up as a Black child on the coastal plain of North Carolina, Harry was taught the consequence of “whites only”. Later in life, here in Minnesota, he would graduate from a punch-press to substitute teaching in St Paul. He was a gentle scholar who took the long view. Our sympathies to Harry’s MRRC friends and his family.
Workers Memorial Day on April 28 had to be different this year and the Minnesota AFL-CIO met that challenge with great flair. You can view the virtual Memorial Program with music, readings and messages here.
The Social Security- Medicare Report was issued by the Trustees recently and reported no big changes from last year. The report does not anticipate consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and says Social Security remains able to pay full benefits until 2034 while Medicare funding still shows 2026 as when benefits decrease. See the full report here.
Do Your 2020 Census As of 4-30-20, 65.2% of Minnesotans have completed their census. In 2010 the final self-response was 74.1%. If you need to do yours, find instructions here. IT’S IMPORTANT!
MN AFL-CIO Survey All union members and retirees are asked to fill out a survey about the effect of the pandemic on their lives. You will find it here.
Postponements Both the Retiree Council Fun(d)raiser and the NALC Food Drive scheduled in May have been postponed. They will be rescheduled as circumstances allow.
NEW WEBSITE WITH TAPES
There are 3 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!