Yes, we are, or maybe were, a big tent party. Varying groups over the decades have joined us in the comfort and camaraderie of our big tent, giving us the critical mass to advance the cause of the common people from the New Deal forward. A few groups quietly or in the case of the “Dixiecrat” racists leave noisily, good riddens to them! That “loss” was more than made up for by the newer groups that joined us in our big tent- People of color, gays, feminists, and immigrants for a start.
Here in Minnesota the group that has literally been the core of the party for over a century, even before we merged to become the “Democratic Farmer-Labor Party” that year after year puts up the lawn signs, knocks the doors, and staffs the phone banks is the hard working men and women of labor. Labor is our party’s last name, and we don’t have a party without them.
But while labor has been quietly doing the party’s work in the back of the tent, another group has jumped up on the stage and is shrilly pushing their platform- The environmental extremists. Labor has been pushing for pollution reductions for decades, partly because we were working closest to the exhaust pipes. Years before the new breed of environmental extremists barged into our big tent the UAW lobbied for retooling auto plants for electric car production, in fact the UAW local at the St.Paul Ford plant argued for keeping the plant open to build electric cars until the last Ranger was built, and then some!
To the new breed of environmental extremists labor is just unrecognized collateral damage as they attempt to stop copper mining and now mining period, no matter how stringent the environmental safeguards are. Without mining, the iron range in northeastern Minnesota becomes another U.P., a cold and distant forest dotted with dying towns trying to survive on a 3 month tourist season with the attendant low wages.
Then a truly stupid company named Embridge got the stupid idea to replace their failing oil pipeline from the tar sands of western Canada to the Superior oil hub with a new one. Fossil fuels are a shrinking sector of the economy and Embrdige’s crude source is the rot gut poor excuse for a fuel and sure as heck not a lubricant tar sands oil… Yup, they literally have to heat the sand to get the “oil” out, and it’s a garbage oil that nobody wants unless they’re desperate, which a world glutted with oil isn’t. But they got their permits and enough stupid investors to bankroll the thing, and being a union job subbed out to union contractors the union pipeliners showed up to do their jobs… Only to be “greeted” by hateful environmental extremists who deprived them of more work and pay than the usual bad weather and breakdowns.
It gets worse… In a last ditch attempt to stop a replacement pipeline that’s pretty much already built, some DFL legislators signed a document that amongst other lies, falsely alleged that our Minnesota union pipeliners were rapists operating out of “man camps” along the pipeline. Sorry dim bulb environmental extremists, I can’t find any evidence of man camps along this pipeline in Minnesota. There have been far too many sexual assaults perpetrated especially against native women near the man camps… In western North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields that house non-union “scab” workers. The union men and women workers who you falsely accuse of rape have insisted on provisions in their union contracts that guarantee that at least half of all pipeline jobs go to local workers, those provisions have largely eliminated the need for “man camps” and provided training and job opportunities for local workers.
In the back of the democratic big tent we union folks are looking up from our thankless grunt work and listening to the names we’re being called. The Laborer’s Union put out a statement yesterday decrying the environmental extremists’ lies, followed by the legendary “49ers” union local (Operating Engineers) appearing at a presser with Minnesota GOP electeds who gave the environmental extremists even stronger rebuke. And the other shoe has yet to drop… I heard rumor that Carpenter’s Union leader and long time but now exiled DFL State Senator Tom Bakk from the range is the most likely senator to be the next majority leader, and the GOP has a thin majority in the senate…
Population shifts reflected in redistricting meant the DFL had a good chance of picking up the couple seats the MSP metro and smaller outstate metros will gain and the senate majority. Driving Bakk with his campaign $$$ stash to the GOP gives the state senate and a political lifeline to the GOP for the rest of this decade. And did I mention this thing we labor people have called “solidarity”? Our power is that we unite and act as one massive bloc… When a couple hundred thousand union members leave the DFL the mailers don’t get mailed, the phone banks go silent, and doors don’t get knocked. Then on Election Day without those couple hundred thousand union votes in swing districts the DFL is no longer Minnesota’s majority party in either statewide or down ballot elections. Then maybe labor takes over the wounded wreck of the Minnesota GOP party and gives it a couple more decades of life… As the majority party.