North Dakota AFL-CIO Legislature Watch - Week ending 4-5-19

Sisters and brothers and everyone else,

It’s been a sad couple of weeks at the legislature. Time and time again, we see the North Dakota House and Senate turn away from issues that affect working families across the state and instead focus on big business’s demand, or we watch them concentrate on fear-mongering distractions. They certainly haven’t spent much effort helping working people with legislation like a better family leave or better safety in the oilfield and construction or more affordable child care or hundreds of other issues that affect us every day.

Instead they stopped cities from raising wages… They stopped cities from banning plastic bags… Stood against protecting retiree’s pensions… And they just spent a huge amount of energy arguing to stop the Equal Rights Amendment from passing, a proposed constitutional amendment that has been dead for 40 years…

Remember, that equality is something that every union has as a core value… a value many in the legislature stood firmly against.  To paraphrase Dr. King, it’s difficult to reconcile these all actions with wisdom, justice and love.

First up is the preemption bill that denied any city the ability to raise it minimum wage. Here’s a group of legislators who are constantly bemoaning Federal Government overreach, yet have no problem forcing everyone below them into line. The fact that no city had actually raised their minimum wage over the state minimum wage didn’t stop our legislature from focusing time and energy to make certain in never happened.

The ERA hearings? Watching the fear-mongering in those hearings was difficult. Several legislators testified that somehow the 51 words of the amendment held hidden meanings and would have torn society down… They argued that guaranteeing equality would have somehow protected one group over another when those 51 words merely guaranteed women had an equal standing to men.

And even sadder was listening to the debate on the House floor against supporting the Butch Lewis Act. In the very real world there are thousands of North Dakota retirees who face losing their pensions. Yet legislators stood and denounced the idea of helping these unfortunate retirees because it sends the wrong message to congress or it couldn’t be done or even worse, it shouldn’t be done.

What this week brings is the final question of how the legislature will handle the ethics amendment the people voted for in November. We face the very real possibility that they will kill the sensible SB 2148 and pass the unconstitutionally weak HB 1521, a bill that would change little and allow them to go back to business as usual.

Shouldn’t working people expect our legislature to focus more on our issues, to expect more of the time and energy given what is important to us. In reality, shouldn’t working people be able to expect more wisdom, justice and love from our elected officials? 

It’s not an unreasonable expectation.

Waylon Hedegaard
President/Secretary Treasurer
North Dakota AFL-CIO
[email protected]
(701) 595-3334

North Dakota AFL-CIO Legislature Watch

Week ending 4-5-19

 

 

Sisters and brothers and everyone else,

 

It’s been a sad couple of weeks at the legislature. Time and time again, we see the North Dakota House and Senate turn away from issues that affect working families across the state and instead focus on big business’s demand, or we watch them concentrate on fear-mongering distractions. They certainly haven’t spent much effort helping working people with legislation like a better family leave or better safety in the oilfield and construction or more affordable child care or hundreds of other issues that affect us every day.

 

Instead they stopped cities from raising wages… They stopped cities from banning plastic bags… Stood against protecting retiree’s pensions… And they just spent a huge amount of energy arguing to stop the Equal Rights Amendment from passing, a proposed constitutional amendment that has been dead for 40 years…

 

Remember, that equality is something that every union has as a core value… a value many in the legislature stood firmly against.  To paraphrase Dr. King, it’s difficult to reconcile these all actions with wisdom, justice and love.

 

First up is the preemption bill that denied any city the ability to raise it minimum wage. Here’s a group of legislators who are constantly bemoaning Federal Government overreach, yet have no problem forcing everyone below them into line. The fact that no city had actually raised their minimum wage over the state minimum wage didn’t stop our legislature from focusing time and energy to make certain in never happened.

 

The ERA hearings? Watching the fear-mongering in those hearings was difficult. Several legislators testified that somehow the 51 words of the amendment held hidden meanings and would have torn society down… They argued that guaranteeing equality would have somehow protected one group over another when those 51 words merely guaranteed women had an equal standing to men.

 

And even sadder was listening to the debate on the House floor against supporting the Butch Lewis Act. In the very real world there are thousands of North Dakota retirees who face losing their pensions. Yet legislators stood and denounced the idea of helping these unfortunate retirees because it sends the wrong message to congress or it couldn’t be done or even worse, it shouldn’t be done.

 

What this week brings is the final question of how the legislature will handle the ethics amendment the people voted for in November. We face the very real possibility that they will kill the sensible SB 2148 and pass the unconstitutionally weak HB 1521, a bill that would change little and allow them to go back to business as usual.

 

Shouldn’t working people expect our legislature to focus more on our issues, to expect more of the time and energy given what is important to us. In reality, shouldn’t working people be able to expect more wisdom, justice and love from our elected officials?  

 

It’s not an unreasonable expectation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Waylon Hedegaard
President/Secretary Treasurer
North Dakota AFL-CIO
[email protected]
(701) 595-3334