In Minnesota, we’re lucky to be rooted in a set of values that rewards hard work. With a world-class education, quality health care, and a tradition of organized labor, I got to experience this. Serving in the Legislature, my top priority is ensuring that my children, grandchildren, and all working families can have a level playing field and a fair opportunity to also succeed.
It’s important for our state government to walk the talk. Shortly after taking office, I got a bill signed into law ensuring contractors bidding on public construction projects meet wage requirements — including prevailing wage laws, overtime, and timely payment — and have a three-year track record as a responsible contractor. This law ensures contractors doing business with government entities play by the rules and removes unfair advantages for those who don’t.
The last two years I’ve had the honor to chair the House Labor Committee. In the position, I was able to help put together the strongest wage-theft prevention and enforcement law in the nation. Wage theft can take several forms, including wrongly classifying workers as independent contractors, withholding tips, denying breaks, and forcing employees to work off the clock. This law ensures folks can count on being paid for every second they are on the job. I also successfully carried legislation known as “Helmets to Hardhats,” which provides a pathway for veterans to earn apprenticeships in skilled construction trades.
When COVID-19 hit, our health care workers and first responders on the front lines immediately faced increased exposure. I’m proud that we worked together to ensure these dedicated workers compensation benefits if they become afflicted with COVID-19 on the job.
This year, we’ve been working hard to enact a robust package of public infrastructure investments. Along with creating good-paying construction jobs at a time when our economy sorely needs them, it will strengthen our public assets and our quality of life overall. In our region, I’ve been working to deliver funding for the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, Twin Lakes Township’s water system, and the Carlton County Correctional Facility. This will take a bipartisan compromise, and I’m hopeful we can still get this bill to the governor’s desk this year.
While I’m proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish — together — there’s a lot left for us to do. Families deserve economic security, and it’s time to ensure every worker has access to paid family and medical leave and earned sick time. Health care costs continue to squeeze families, including skyrocketing prescription drug prices, and we need to do more to get these under control. Our current situation has also highlighted other struggles families face, including high child care costs and gaps in reliable broadband access. We need to keep pushing to fund these priorities.
The COVID-19 pandemic still presents a tough situation, both regarding our physical health and our economic recovery. I’d be honored to have the opportunity to continue contributing to the important work down in St. Paul to deliver a brighter future for all Minnesotans.
Mike Sundin of Esko is the DFL representative of Minnesota House 11A. He is being challenged in the Nov. 3 election by Republican Jeff Dotseth of Kettle River. He wrote this at the invitation of the News Tribune Opinion page.