The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), a union of 20,000, consisting mostly of Registered Nurses, is the first major union endorsement for Ginger Jentzen’s campaign for Minneapolis City Council. Last year, the MNA went out on a historic six-week strike of almost 5,000 RNs across the Twin Cities.
This endorsement is based on years of common work. MNA endorsed the attempt to put $15 minimum wage on the ballot in Minneapolis this past year, a campaign that Jentzen helped lead as director of the local 15 Now chapter. Jentzen is a long-time member of Socialist Alternative and formerly an organizer with Occupy Homes MN which helped fight evictions in the Twin Cities during the massive foreclosure crisis caused by the 2008-2009 crash.
In 2013, Socialist Alternative member Ty Moore only narrowly missed out on winning a City Council seat by around 200 votes. This year, Ginger’s campaign is broadly viewed as a viable campaign with a real chance of winning.
This history, combined with the successes of Kshama Sawant in Seattle, shows that it is possible to get socialists elected to office on the basis of movements.
A Step Toward a New Party
The repeated failure of the Democrats to fulfill promises made to unions shows the need for unions to be willing to support independent candidates outside of the two-party system.
The MNA has shown the way forward by not only endorsing a socialist candidate, but by doing so early – before the Democratic primary. The labor movement needs to learn from the role of Minneapolis Democratic Party establishment which fought tooth and nail to prevent $15 from appearing on the ballot. It is the big business nature of that leadership that causes the repeated failure of the Democrats to fulfill promises made to unions.
Endorsing independent candidates is important, but in order to build real political power for working people in this country, we will need to build a party of the 99%! One that doesn’t take corporate cash and is beholden to working people – not the bosses!