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Minnesota

AFSCME strikers rally at Board of Regents meeting

by staff |
September 8, 2007
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AFSCME picketers with "on strike" signs
Above:
Workers on strike at the University of Minnesota rally outside McNamara Alumni Center on September 7. (Fight Back! News)
Students and community membersBoard of Regents meeting.
SDS banner: "Wages Not War.
Right:
Students and community members marched inside to the Board of Regents meeting to demand the Regents take action to support striking U of M workers. (Fight Back! News)
Left:
Students rally outside McNamara Alumni Center before going into Board of Regents meeting (Fight Back! News)

Minneapolis, MN - Over 650 people turned out to a rally held by striking AFSCME workers on the plaza of McNamara Alumni Center on September 7. The crowd included State Representative and Chair of the House Finance Committee, Lyndon Carlson, Secretary of State Mark Richie, representatives from unions across the Twin Cities, students, faculty, staff, and activists.

Speaking before the crowd, Rep. Carlson stated that the legislature had allocated an additional $150 million to the University of Minnesota budget with the intent of providing "fair and equitable pay" to University employees as a priority. He added that "the problem was not so complex that it couldn't be resolved today." He then went on to say that getting the University back to the bargaining table was a priority.

Thirty-three year University employee Laurie Eisenschenk spoke of how her family is struggling. "I'm not trying to live in the lap of luxury, I'm just trying to get by. My family has had some medical issues and now we are losing our home in December."

Other speakers included AFSCME Council 5 president Eliot Seide, ATU 1005 President Michelle Sommers, and AMFA Local 33 President Ted Ludwig, who all reported strong donations to the U of M worker's strike fund as well as growing recognition and support of the strike around the country and even among some unions in other countries.

David Gilbert-Pederson reported about a protest earlier in the day in which 120 students marched into the University of Minnesota Regents meeting to demand fair wages for U of M workers. Five protesters were arrested inside the Regents meeting.

Talking about the student protest inside the Board of Regents meeting, Tracy Molm of Students for a Democratic Society stated, "We sent a strong message to the Board of Regents that students back AFSCME workers in their fight for economic justice."

Students presented their demands to the Regents while other protestors blocked the door preventing the regents from leaving. The five demonstrators who sat in front of the door were arrested. They are currently being held in Hennepin County Jail.