Communicate more directly with park employees. Currently, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) only takes responsibility for the treasurer and the superintendent—washing their hands of any other labor disputes. We need to end this adversarial relationship with the board and the employees by bringing more of their voices to the table—after all, if it wasn’t for the staff there would be no difference between a Minneapolis Park and a vacant spot of land.
Determine the annual budget after all contract negotiations have taken place. The MPRB currently determines its annual budget before meeting with our unions. This makes it much harder for our employees to obtain higher wages, since the available funds have already been decided. If we want the Minneapolis Park System to be an enviable place to work, the first step is in empowering our workforce.
Take accusations of bias and racism seriously. At the June 7th meeting, there was a contingent of protestors recriminating the MPRB of racist practices, followed by an “expert” claiming that there was no example of bias in staffing procedures. The MPRB is in dire need of hiring a Racial Justice officer to ensure that the MPRB is following affirmative hiring practices instead of ignoring cries for justice.
Say “NO” to privatization. Minnesota, and the country as a whole, is in need of good, pensioned, high-paying public sector jobs more than ever. I would reject any attempt to bring corporations into our parks or rely on outsourced, non-union labor as is currently happening at Theodore Wirth Park. The union makes us strong!