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Oct
2015
8

600 AFSCME Members Join Building Trades in Duluth Protest Over Out-of-State Painters

Duluth afscme building trades rally radisson

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Union workers have been bannering the Radisson Hotel in Duluth, Minnesota for weeks. As locals, they are offended that the hotel’s new owner decided to use non-union painters, shipped in from Texas, for renovation work.  On Friday, their cause spread as they were joined in solidarity by 600 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 5.  Craig Olson, President of the local Building Trades council, thanked the public employees for joining his private sector union’s efforts: “We’re not going to let these guys destroy our standard of living.”

In a news release sent to the Duluth News Tribune, AFSCME Council 5 President Judy Wahlberg said: “Shame on the Radisson.  There’s no excuse for hiring non-union contractors from out of town when local painters are out of work.”

The actions were not without risk. Unionized restaurant and housekeeping workers staff the Radisson, and some were concerned the boat was being unecessarily rocked. But AFSCME Council 5 Executive Director Eliot Seide sees the long-term strength of the local labor force as the greater goal:

“We are protecting the rights of workers to have fair wages, benefits, and working conditions.  We can show that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. You can’t do this in Duluth. You can’t do this anywhere.  If the new owner is using nonunion labor to fix the hotel, it’s only a matter of time before he uses nonunion labor in the hotel.”

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