By Harry Welty
There it was, bold as brass,
in the Labor World’s December issue, AFSCME’s holiday greetings to all
union members from its Director and union reps including Duluth City
Councilor-Elect, Laurie Johnson. The City’s biggest bargaining unit had just
announced its best Christmas present ever, a fully conflicted City Councilor
placed on the public employee union’s payroll. This should make the City’s
next contract negotiations a lot more interesting.
AFSCME (which stands for American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) has been the most aggressive single force behind local politics for several election cycles. As the most perennial candidate for public office since Harold Stassen I’ve sat through nearly a dozen AFSCME screenings and am well aware of their clout. The half dozen people who decide where to put the resources of thousands of public employees don’t always get their candidates elected but they wield a big stick. Ironically, AFSCME’s fixation on social policy has created a rift between public employees and the traditional trade unions. AFSCME endorsed candidates often seem to have more in common with the Green Party than union politics. Whatever AFSCME’s tilt no one can doubt the union’s influence on next year’s City Council. Laurie Johnson will be part of AFSCME’s imprint.
Anyone who paid attention to
last fall’s election campaign knows that the lively Laurie Johnson has
strong pro-union convictions. She worked for the United Food and Commercial
AFSCME has no such qualms. Even before Laurie Johnson was hired on AFSCME employees were taking a lead in her election campaign. One of them, Marshall Stenerson, wrote glowingly about Laurie. After the election and Johnson’s victory Marsh couldn’t help but take a cheap shot at Todd Fedora, her defeated rival, in the November 6th, Northland Reader. “…My first suggestion would have been that you lose the dye job and concentrate on controlling your sneer when addressing your opponent,” Stenerson sneered.
I met Fedora years ago when
he was a student in Mary Murphy’s American History class at
I also know Laurie Johnson.
She is the sunniest candidate for public office that I’ve ever met. When she
checked groceries at
Representing thousands of workers on the public payroll its not surprising that AFSCME would want to have friendly public servants sitting across from them during contract negotiations but there are limits. It’s too bad that AFSCME’s shameless grab for power has given the public something so deserving of a good sneer.
Welty is a small time politician who lets it all hang out at: www.snowbizz.com