Members Give Rousing Goodbye to Dayton


AFSCME Council 5 members said a sad but grateful farewell to Gov. Mark Dayton at our Annual Convention Friday.

Members jumped up to greet Dayton with a standing ovation and cheers.

“I really do believe in government,” Dayton said. “I believe in its enormous importance in people’s lives. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. I’m proud to have stood with you and earned your support.”

He said Minnesota’s considered one of the best-run states with excellent public services because of people like AFSCME members, who take pride in our high-quality work.

Dayton started his remarks by asking for a moment of silence to honor Correctional Officer Joe Gomm, who was killed by an inmate in July; and CO Joe Parise, who died Monday shortly after responding to an inmate assault on staff.

The Governor thanked COs and other workers who face danger in the workplace to keep us safe and serve the public.

He pointed out that his administration has repeatedly asked the Legislature for funding to hire 187 more COs, and more bonding to improve old prison facilities, only to be denied again and again by Republicans.

Public service workers “do your work with such dedication and then get denigrated for it by the right-wing politicians who know nothing about government and care about it even less,” Dayton said. “They claim it runs badly, and then if they’re elected, they prove themselves right. They defund services and destroy them, then run for reelection saying we made government worse; if you elect us, we’ll do it again.”

Dayton took a different approach. He raised taxes – only on the wealthiest 2 percent. The GOP and Chamber of Commerce predicted businesses would flee the state.

“What happened? Minnesota’s economic recovery led the nation and it’s continuing,” Dayton said. Minnesota now has 318,000 more jobs than when Dayton took office. Our unemployment rate hit 2.9 percent, the lowest in 15 years.

Dayton turned a $6 billion deficit inherited from Gov. Tim Pawlenty into eight straight years of projected surpluses.

“I think the Republicans should just say thank you and switch parties,” he joked. Instead, Dayton said, voters hear the same old song: cut taxes (for the rich), cut services, cut pensions, and make Minnesota look like Wisconsin.

“That’s the worst campaign idea of the millennium,” Dayton said. “It sure hasn’t worked for Wisconsin. I just hope that someday, they can work their way back to looking like us.”

Other highlights Friday included speeches of solidarity by our labor sisters Serena Vergin, the executive director of Council 65; and MAPE executive director Lina Jamoul.

The chair officer and Executive Board election results will be officially released Saturday, following the swearing-in ceremony.

Watch AFSCME Council 5 Facebook for photos and the next Stepping Up for complete Convention coverage.