Home-care workers’ union election prompts new legal challenge

By   /  August 28, 2014  /  Minnesota, State Government, unions  /  No Comments

Photo by Tom Steward.

After years of organizing home-care workers and waging a divisive 2013 legislative battle, the Service Employees International Union prevailed this week in the largest public-sector union election in Minnesota history.

The victory, certified by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, came with asterisks that will determine the ultimate effect of the outcome.

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Bird-friendly glass won’t fly on billion dollar NFL stadium

By   /  August 26, 2014  /  Accountability, Minnesota, News, State Budgets, State Government  /  No Comments

LOOK OUT ABOVE:  For about $1 million, the MN Vikings new stadium could be far less lethal to migratory birds in the Mississippi River flyway.

Minnesota Vikings bird-loving fans are flustered the NFL franchise won’t ante up a million bucks for bird-safe glass at the stadium now under construction.

“Blatant refusal to replace the glass because birds will die crashing into the windows has now convinced me this project is an embarrassment and horror to our Flyway and to our State. Conceit and greed is now painfully obvious and everyone involved should be ashamed,” wrote Mary Madeco-Smith on City Pages website.

Critics flocked to post online comments on news sites following reports that $46 million in newly announced stadium upgrades will not include $1.1 million for bird-friendly glass.

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Non-union workers written out of $85-million city project

By   /  August 22, 2014  /  Local Government, Minnesota, News, State Government, unions  /  No Comments

City of Rochester photo.

Jim Gander’s local and state taxes will help pay for an $85 million expansion of the Mayo Civic Center. So will the heating and plumbing contractor get a shot at some of the 700 jobs spread over three years of the publicly funded project?

Not a chance, Gander says, blaming a project labor agreement, which city officials signed with organized labor.

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Some city halls working for the (long) weekend

By   /  August 20, 2014  /  Accountability, community, Local Government, Minnesota, News, Transparency  /  No Comments

Weekend

Nine western Twin Cities suburbs might as well post a ‘gone fishing’ sign on City Hall doors each Friday afternoon during summer. Closed for business. Come back Monday. Took dog to vet.

“The justification for summer hours was to make our city hall hours comparable with surrounding lake communities and due to the fact that Fridays have always historically been quieter days in terms of residents calling or stopping by city hall,” Dana Young, city administrator, clerk and treasurer for Deephaven, said in an email.

“Obviously, our administrative staff has also come to love summer hours, so that it has also evolved into somewhat of an employee benefit.”

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MN candidate with big pockets takes another big loss

By   /  August 15, 2014  /  Campaign Finance, Elections, Minnesota, News, Politics & Elections, State Politics  /  No Comments

MN's $6 MILLION MAN: Matt Entenza has failed to win 20 percent of the vote despite pouring millions of his own money into primary campaigns for statewide office in the last two election cycles. Photo:  Entenza for Auditor.

Matt Entenza got smoked again in a third quest for statewide office, even with all the zeroes on his personal contribution checks.

Yet if antipathy could be monetized, the former Minnesota House minority leader got more than his money’s worth in challenging incumbent Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto, a fellow member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party.

“This really felt like an ambush, like a drive-by political assassination that he tried to pull off that backfired big time,” said Larry Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political science professor. “I frankly didn’t hear of any real support for him.”

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Minnesota cafe shows customers the cost of minimum wage hike, Internet gets mad

By   /  August 13, 2014  /  Business, Economy, Issues, Minnesota, National, News, State Government  /  No Comments

MID-DAY AT THE OASIS: The Oasis Cafe is about as nondescript as any other small diner in middle America - you'd drive right past it if you weren't looking for it.  But it's been at the latest epicenter in the national political fight over the minimum wage.

The higher minimum wage means higher costs for many businesses in Minnesota, hitting small restaurants and other mom and pop shops particularly hard. Many likely will increase their prices a few cents to cover those costs. Some may lay off staff or avoid hiring new workers. In either case, there are consequences of a higher minimum wage, but they remain unseen.

At the Oasis Café, owner Craig Beemer decided to make the costs visible — right at the bottom of each customer’s check.

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