Legislative Session Ends with Jobs and Safety Victories for Construction Workers, Unfinished Business

Jul 1 2021

Saint Paul, MN – Today, the legislative session ended with important wins for construction workers, including thousands of infrastructure jobs, clean energy jobs, wage theft and OSHA enforcement. The Republican Senate blocked critical refinery safety legislation and a bonding bill was left undone, despite bipartisan support from Governor Walz and the Legislature.

Joel Smith, President and Business Manager said, “LIUNA brothers and sisters have advocated relentlessly through the 2021 session. We showed up in person and virtually to make sure our leaders and neighbors understand the urgent need to invest in our state’s crumbling infrastructure, rebuild our communities, and create safe, living wage jobs for all Minnesotans.”

Despite challenges due to COVID safety protocols, Laborers made the 2021 legislative session a success for jobs and safety. LIUNA members met with legislators, generated more than 1,000 phone calls and hundreds of e-mails to state leaders, and partnered with trades and labor allies in more than two dozen hearings, forums and press events to advocate for our union’s legislative priorities.

Key legislative victories that will create jobs for construction workers, end wage theft and make workers safer on the job:

  • $7 billion for transportation infrastructure including 200 highway and local road and bridge projects and two new bus rapid transit projects

  • $70 million for broadband infrastructure

  • Natural Gas Innovation Act: Will reduce carbon emissions without sacrificing affordability and reliability, and create the potential to grow clean energy economy, especially in rural MN

  • Energy Conservation and Optimization Act and a Buy Clean Buy Fair study

  • $150 million for Main Street business redevelopment statewide, including prevailing wages on Lake Street rebuild

  • One year extension of the historic preservation tax credit

  • Funding for the Department of Labor and Industry to hire an additional 9.5 FTE OSHA inspectors

  • $700,000 for the Office of Attorney General’s wage theft enforcement division

  • Require a study of speed management in work zones

In addition, the Legislature passed and Governor Walz approved a tax exemption on the first $10,200 in extra federal unemployment benefits.

“LIUNA members were a force for working Minnesotans all through session,” Smith added, “and we are proud to help ensure that thousands of local union members and construction workers can count on family-supporting jobs with benefits building clean energy infrastructure and making our roads and bridges safer.”

LIUNA will continue to advocate for critical refinery safety legislation that requires contractors at oil refineries to employ a qualified workforce trained through registered apprenticeship programs which will make refinery workers and surrounding communities safer. The Legislature will return for a special session in September. LIUNA urges the Legislature to pass a $500 million infrastructure jobs bill during the special session.