Minn. pipeline fight highlights Democrat dilemmas in 2020

FILE - In this June 29, 2018, file photo, pipeline used to carry crude oil is shown at the Superior terminal of Enbridge Energy in Superior, Wis. The divisive fight over the future of a crude oil pipeline across Minnesota highlights the dilemmas for Democrats in a state that's expected to become a battleground in the 2020 presidential race. And that could spell opportunity for President Donald Trump, who came close to winning the historically red state in 2016. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

A one-week legislative special session is wrapping up without much to show for the workers and communities of Minnesota. Here in the Iron Range, the economic situation is in free fall and if there has ever been a Hail Mary pass we could use from our lawmakers, passing a large infrastructure bill right now would be it.

I serve as the business manager of Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 1097 and we represent more than 700 general construction Laborers. Our members are proud to build and maintain the infrastructure our community relies on every day. We’re proud to be part of the building trades tradition that supports the economic backbone of this region. Unfortunately, the local construction industry has seen some of the toughest times in recent years.

Before a pandemic-induced recession, mines and mills had been closing. The Line 3 Replacement pipeline and Twin Metals projects, which could put thousands of our neighbors to work, are tied up in court or bureaucratic red tape. Meanwhile, 90 Laborers are on the bench any given week with little hope for job opportunities on the horizon.

We have been living and working on the verge of survival and need an economic lifeline from our Legislature.

A $2 billion bonding bill will create more than 30,000 high-quality jobs in local communities across the state, stimulate economic recovery and keep Minnesotans working well into the future. There is no excuse not to get this critical legislation done.

Shawn Braford is the business manager of Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 1097

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