Minnesota A.G. in Teamster striker-scab stunt

Related story: "Minnesota's labor-backed, anti-union A.G."

Swanson tries to get her union cred back

Minnesota's Attorney General joined a picket line in Saint Paul Friday, to lend her support to the Teamster's Union's strike against Johnson Brothers Liquor. Lori Swanson, who donned a Teamster's jacket for the event, urged striking members of Local 792 to keep up their fight for a new contract with the liquor distributor.

"I myself was a member of the UAW back when I was trying to support myself," Swanson told the picketers, family members and supporters, "So what you're doing here is very near and dear to my heart."

At least 70 drivers and warehouse workers at Johnson Brothers Liquor have been on strike for 11 weeks now, taking to the picket line on Saint Patrick's Day.

"America is great because of a middle class," Swanson told the striking teamsters, "And what you're doing is trying to make sure working men and women can be part of the middle class."

Swanson's appearance on the picket line came the same week she received blistering criticism from the head the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 5, accusing her of firing an assistant attorney general because of efforts to organize the lawyers on her staff.

But to Steve Finch, one of the Teamsters on the picket line, Swanson's appearance meant a lot.

"Lori Swanson being here today? That was huge! Really huge."

Finch, who joined Johnson Brothers 14 years ago when it merged with the competitor where he worked, said the strikers are looking for an extra 60 cents an hour. They're also asking Johnson Brothers to cap the annual increase in health care premiums at 10 percent.

"It's been a great place to work, but we have families too. We need a new contract, and we're not asking for the world here."

A Johnson Brothers spokesman told KARE 11 Friday that the company was disappointed when the workers left the negotiating table abruptly.

A federal mediator has been unable to get the two sides back to the bargaining table. Mayor Chris Coleman has offered to help settle the dispute.

"Johnson Brothers has a long history in Saint Paul," Mayor Coleman wrote in a letter to the company's CEO Lynn Johnson and Local 792 business agent Bill Reynolds.

"The company is recognized as being a loyal, honest and dependable business partner, providing customers with quality service."

"Johnson Brothers' most valued resources, its employees, deserve credit for helping the company grow into one of the best wine and spirit distributors in the country."

The company continued to move product in and out of its warehouse on Shepard Road, using drivers who don't belong to the local.

Private security officers stood just inside the shipping entrance, and a Saint Paul police officer cruised up and down the street.

"We can hold up those scabs for 30 seconds, and then we have to let them through," Steve Finch explained, "Those are the rules here on the line."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Swanson and Hatch are the biggest frauds that the DFL has ever spit up. How could the Teamsters embrace this FAKE after all she's been busting unions in her own office? Shame on the Teamsters.

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