Walz, Flanagan Vow to Stand 'Shoulder to Shoulder' with Workers

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, AFSCME’s endorsed candidate for Governor, speaks at the AFSCME Council 5 Convention with his running mate, state Rep. Peggy Flanagan (left) and Judy Wahlberg, who just retired as Council president.
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, AFSCME’s endorsed candidate for Governor, speaks at the AFSCME Council 5 Convention with his running mate, state Rep. Peggy Flanagan (left) and Judy Wahlberg, who just retired as Council president.

The Nov. 6 election comes down to a simple choice: Elect Tim Walz, or become another Wisconsin.

As Governor, Tim Walz will follow in the footsteps of Gov. Dayton. Walz shares our union values. He believes that everyone – no matter the color of their skin, where they live or how much money they make – deserves the freedom to be able to get a quality education, go to the doctor without going bankrupt, take care of their loved ones and earn a fair return on their work.

Walz has a vision for a better Minnesota, a Minnesota with an even higher quality of life and improved working conditions for all. As a former school teacher, football coach and union member, Walz respects and understands public workers. He knows that we’re all better off when we work together. He calls collective bargaining a basic human right.

“We turn this thing here,” Walz said at the AFSCME Council 5 Convention. “We show them I am labor, we are labor, Minnesota is labor. We push back, we expand our rights as workers. We expand access to health care. We expand education for all of our citizens. We close the equity gap. We welcome immigrants into our state.”

Contrast that vision with his opponent, Jeff Johnson, who wants to “go all Scott Walker on Minnesota.” Johnson has voiced contempt for public workers. He said former Gov. Pawlenty, who cut public services and public schools, didn’t go far enough.

Walz sees Minnesota as a place where we take care of each other, join together across racial differences and treat others as we want to be treated.

Johnson, on the other hand, aims to divide us, to distract us with fear mongering and blaming new immigrants, Muslims and Black people – all while he helps the wealthy few rig the system against working people so they can get even richer.

The choice was clear for AFSCME’s Executive Board – made up of members, elected by members – who endorsed U.S. Congressman Tim Walz and state Rep. Peggy Flanagan for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

“When organized labor comes together and we fight for justice, wages go up,” Flanagan said. “We have access to health care and every person in this state benefits. We are going to continue to work with you shoulder to shoulder. We are going to continue to ensure Minnesota is a land where people feel hopeful and they feel included like they have a stake in this.”

Flanagan says it’s not enough to simply protect the rights of workers.

“They are coming at us with everything they’ve got, this Janus (anti-worker Supreme Court) decision,” she said. “We’re pushing back. We’re fighting. We know what is at stake. It is not just about protecting the rights of workers – it is about expanding the rights of workers.”

In a powerful personal moment, Flanagan and Walz both expressed outrage over the handling of the Kavanaugh hearings. Flanagan says she knows sexual assault survivors who feel traumatized all over again.

“I want to tell you that Tim and I see you, we value you, we believe in you, and we stand with you,” Flanagan said. “In this moment designed to make women feel small, I am going to take up all the space I can.”

Walz stood and applauded, along with women and men throughout the audience.

Walz told the crowd he knows an endorsement by AFSCME is not a pat on the back, but a kick in the butt to get out and fight for working people.

“This country was founded on labor, this country was founded on the backs of workers just like you,” he said. “We know we stand on the shoulders of giants who didn’t come home after organizing. The things you are advocating for in many cases truly are life and death.”

Walz called out lawmakers who are “cowardly enough” to stand with the Trump administration and not speak out, even though they know decency, basic human rights and the middle class are being assaulted.

“There are people out there across this state and this country watching the chaos that unfurls every day, and they’re fearful for the future,” Walz said. “But that’s not you, and that’s not Minnesota. We don’t fear the future – we create the future.”