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Continued: All-night battle shows power of unionization issue

  • Article by: JIM RAGSDALE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 15, 2013 - 10:10 PM

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, said of the GOP effort: “This is their Waterloo.”

Amendments defeated

The bill sponsor, Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, argued tirelessly that the bill would give providers and assistants the right to call a union vote, to see whether they wanted to be represented. “It’s all about their choice,” she said.

Toward the end, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, held up his electricians’ union card and gave a history lesson on the rise of the union movement and development of the middle class. “I understand why this majority caucus has got the majority,” he said to the Republicans. “Because you cannot stand only for the wealthy.”

Pappas was able to defeat every amendment she opposed and was cheered by a band of union supporters who stayed through the night.

“The hostility toward labor is just unbelievable,” said Pappas, whose demeanor during the ordeal drew praise from her opponents. She compared the marathon session to “Washington, D.C., gridlock.”

The House sponsor, Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said he expects to take the bill up Saturday.

“I expect a long battle,” he said.

Bakk said he believes the Legislature can get its work done despite the all-nighter, and the possibility of the House’s deciding to “call the question” and cut off debate at some point could prevent another day-night-day marathon.

But the age-old divide between the DFL and Republican parties on labor rights will not go away and may figure in House elections next year. For now, Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said she believes her side did its job by pulling the all-nighter.

“We have proven ourselves to be the worthy opposition,” she told her colleagues as the debate was wrapping up.

Staff writer Rachel E. Stassen-Berger contributed to this report. Jim Ragsdale • 651-925-5042

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