I was shocked at the blatantly anti-union attitude displayed in the May 15 editorial regarding my legislation that would provide 25,000 low-income workers, mostly women, who care for our children, our elderly and the disabled the choice to form a union to negotiate for better wages. This is a right guaranteed to other industries, but not guaranteed for home care providers.

Union workers are hardworking, middle-class people who live and pay taxes in our communities. They are firefighters, police officers, teachers, factory workers, grocery workers, mail carriers and many more. They provide much-needed services and assist in manufacturing products throughout this great country.

You may not be in a union and may in fact be anti-union, but if you enjoy weekends off, paid vacation and sick leave, overtime, a safe working environment, a decent wage and some sort of retirement benefit, then you can thank the labor movement and unions.

All of these benefits and many more were earned with the blood, sweat, tears — and, yes, sometimes the lives — of those in unions who proudly fought for them so all workers can enjoy them.

The right to form a union is a longstanding American tradition. It allows workers to democratically choose whether they want to unionize. Unions brought us the eight-hour workday, health insurance, sick days, safe working conditions, a livable wage and pensions.

Other places where these workers were allowed to organize have raised child-care subsidy rates for providers (Oregon); have provided more training opportunities (Illinois); have reduced the turnover of home care workers (Massachusetts), and have increased the supply of home care workers (San Francisco).

We began the debate in the Senate at 3 p.m. Tuesday and finally voted at 8 a.m. Wednesday after a 17-hour anti-union filibuster by Republican opponents. As I watched the sun rising through the door to the Senate chamber, I was proud that we stood with workers who simply want us to move aside and let them vote so that they can determine their own destiny and improve their lives.


State Sen. Sandra L. Pappas, DFL-St. Paul