AFSCME Leader Wins Wellstone Award

Council 5 executive director Eliot Seide was awarded the Paul D. Wellstone Award on Friday by the DFL.
Council 5 executive director Eliot Seide was awarded the Paul D. Wellstone Award on Friday by the DFL.

Council 5 executive director Eliot Seide was awarded the Paul D. Wellstone Award on Friday by the DFL.

The award honors him for a lifetime of commitment to labor.

Seide has spent 28 years organizing with AFSCME members in Minnesota, New York and across the nation. Before he was executive director of Council 5, he was a business agent, legislative director and international area director. He serves on the Minnesota AFL-CIO Executive Board and was elected AFSCME International vice president in 2006.

“As a graduate student, Eliot realized that he was tired of talking about making a difference and decided it was time to take action,” DFL Chairman Ken Martin says in the release announcing the award. “In a labor-driven atmosphere, Eliot’s constant leadership and devotion to organized labor make him the perfect recipient for this award.”

Seide says he was humbled to accept the award, which he says brought him fond memories of the late Paul Wellstone, who he called a working-class hero.

“The award really belongs to my AFSCME family,” Seide says. “We’re a powerful union of 43,000 workers. United we rise up for excellence in public services, dignity in the workplace, and opportunity and prosperity for all working families.

“Like Paul Wellstone, we believe that politics is about improving people’s lives,” he says. “We know that ‘We all do better when we all do better.’ Students are smarter, families are healthier, and our neighborhoods are safer when labor has a voice in the halls of power.”

Seide pointed out that AFSCME was the first union to endorse Gov. Mark Dayton, a choice that’s led to taxing the rich, raising the minimum wage, and providing access to affordable health care and all-day kindergarten for all.

“We declared that all Minnesotans have a right to collectively bargain, vote without barriers, and marry whomever they love. And that’s just the beginning!” Seide says. “Imagine what we can do if we win the trifecta on Election Day.”

AFSCME is working with our allies across the state to retain the state Senate and win back the state House so Gov. Dayton can get past the logjam in Saint Paul and continue making progress for workers, our families and our communities during his last two years in office.

Seide urged members and others to make sure to vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8.

“We won’t relent until we elect leaders as good as we are,” he says.

Seide gave a shout-out to civil rights hero U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the event’s keynote speaker, and to the late Jerry Wurf, Seide’s mentor who took AFSCME International membership over the 1 million mark.

 “Their struggle for good jobs and just wages forged a strong alliance between the labor movement and the civil rights movement,” Seide says. “We agreed that it wasn’t enough to have a seat at the lunch counter if you couldn’t afford the meal. Worker rights, civil rights and human rights are all connected – and we are stronger together.” 

Seide ended his speech by promising AFSCME will never quit.

“We live Paul Wellstone’s progressive values and we will never park the green bus!”