North Dakota AFL-CIO 60th Constitutional Convention

GRAND FORKS, ND – Over one-hundred union members from over twenty-five different affiliated unions and guests joined together on June 6th and 7th in Grand Forks for the two-day 60th annual Constitutional Convention of the North Dakota AFL-CIO at the Ramada hotel in Grand Forks, ND.

The North Dakota AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations) is the state federation of labor unions in North Dakota. Local unions join together in state federations and local labor councils to advance the interests of all working people in their area. Delegates from each affiliated union gather once a year to democratically elect leaders, recognize volunteers, discuss regional issues impacting working families, and set the direction of the organization for the next year.

The convention delegates elected a new leadership team, including President/Secretary-Treasurer and Executive Board. Waylon Hedegaard has served as North Dakota AFL-CIO President for the last four years and is retiring to spend time with his family and travel.

Landis Larson, a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 2525, has been elected President/Secretary-Treasurer of the North Dakota AFL-CIO. Deb Carter (United Steelworkers local 560) was elected First Vice President. Nick Archuleta (North Dakota United), Jason Frank (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 1593), and Jason Ehlert (International Union of Painters and Allied Trades) were elected as Trustee. Every affiliated union also nominated and elected their delegate to the North Dakota AFL-CIO Executive Board.

Guests from neighboring states and provinces brought greetings from their unions and federations.

Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labor, spoke about the Canadian labor movement, highlighting the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919. The Manitoba Federation of Labor and other labor allies are currently celebrating with a months-long series of public education and entertainment events in Winnipeg. The Convention passed a resolution commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg 1919 General Strike and presented it to the Manitoba Federation of Labor.

Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy and Sioux Falls AFL-CIO President Kooper Caraway spoke about the labor movement in their respective states, including organizing and legislative efforts, stressing collaboration between unions and federations.

Minnesota Nurses Association President Mary Turner and a number of her executive board spoke on their organizing work in North Dakota. The Minnesota Nurses Association is the newest affiliate of the North Dakota AFL-CIO. The convention passed a resolution congratulating the Minnesota Nurses Association on their historic victory in Bismarck, with CHI St. Alexius nurses vote to unionize earlier this year.

BCTGM International Union President David B. Durkee was a special guest of honor to help commemorate the one-hundred year anniversary of the signing of the legislation to create the North Dakota Mill and Elevator, the only state-owned mill in the country. The workers at the state mill are members of BCTGM local 167g and affiliated with the North Dakota AFL-CIO.

“It is truly an honor for me to be a part of the 60th Constitutional Convention of the North Dakota AFL-CIO and to join in the celebration of North Dakota Mill and Elevator Day on June 6”, President Durkee said.

“As International Union President, I am extremely proud of our Brothers and Sisters of BCTGM Local 167G, past and present, who for many decades have been the foundation for the enormous success of the North Dakota Mill and Elevator”, President Durkee said.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum had previously signed a proclamation that June 6, 2019 would be “North Dakota Mill and Elevator Day” in the state of North Dakota. District 42 Representative Corey Mock read the proclamation to open the convention.

Grand Forks City Council also passed a resolution that June 6, 2019 would be “North Dakota Mill and Elevator Day” in the City of Grand Forks, ND. Grand Forks Mayor Brown presented a resolution to the convention.

In celebration of the day, a short film of the political history of the state mill and elevator, created by Howard Kling, was debuted as well.

National AFL-CIO Staff Jocelyn Woodards and Samantha Trueblood covered a number of economic issues for working people during an hour-long popular education training on the economy. Delegates commited to planning to organize popular education economics trainings for union members around the state over the coming months.

The convention also passed resolutions supporting the anti-privitatization efforts of the National Association of Letter Carriers the American Postal Workers Union in regard to the US Postal System as well as our support of single-payer healthcare.

The North Dakota AFL-CIO delegates expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the work that President Hedegaard has put into fighting for the dignity and respect for all working people in North Dakota and wished him well on his adventures.