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Alleged Mayo Clinic HR Email Details ‘Union Avoidance’ Strategy

Plus an MN climate predictor, more reasons to love libraries, and Duluth's lone record shop in today's Flyover news roundup.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

Is Mayo Planning to Head off a Union Drive?

Mayo Clinic doesn't really try to hide its position on organized labor. Last year the colossal Rochester, Minnesota-based healthcare nonprofit (heh) effectively blackmailed Gov. Tim Walz by threatening to pull more than $4 billion in investment if two union-backed nurse staffing bills weren't gutted; DFL lawmakers caved at the last minute. In 2022, around 500 unionized Mayo nurses voted to decertify their union, a move the company applauded.

But now a new group, the independent Med City Nursing Alliance (MCNA), is exploring ways to unionize about 6,000 Mayo Clinic nurses. Early polling suggests over half of those workers might be onboard, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports, and if purportedly leaked emails from Mayo brass are legit, the company is getting nervous.

A recent post on the r/nursing subreddit appears to show screenshots of a leaked "confidential" email from Mayo HR guy Chris Dvorak, with instructions to hide its contents from "front line staff." The alleged email comes with a conspicuous attachment labeled "UnionAvoidQRG," which opens to an apparent PDF outlining Mayo's—you guessed it—"Union Avoidance" tactics for managers. The doc belches out mealy-mouthed corporate boilerplate about how unions could impact "the culture and work environment" at Mayo, while rattling off a fairly convincing list of reasons why employees may seek out unions, including "inequity of compensation and benefits." None of the "Good Prevention Practices" that follow include boosting pay.

If our abundantly cautious language hasn't made this clear, we've yet to confirm the authenticity of the email but it sure looks legit. Racket reached out to Mayo, MCNA, and the Redditor for confirmation. We haven't heard back from anyone yet.

Update: We heard back from the Redditor, Tiffany Lawler.

"The documents were shared with me and I am not at all surprised by their contents... It is unfortunate that we have to rely on things like this being sent to the wrong people in order to grab the attention of the workforce," reports Lawler, a registered nurse at Mayo and founder of MCNA. "I am hoping that it sheds some light on [Mayo's] true priorities… And I’m hoping [the nurses] are empowered to fight for their rights after this."

Here’s What MN’s Climate Future Looks Like

We like to imagine we live in a “climate haven” in Minnesota. But a new online tool from the University of Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership, working with the state Department of Commerce, should undo whatever complacency about the state’s future you might harbor. As MPR reports, the tool works by “generating data from global climate model simulations, and then ‘downscaling’ it to a 2.5 square mile scale, visualizing how specific towns may experience the impact in the coming decades.” You can choose from “intermediate” to “high” to “very high” emissions, as well as mid-, late-, and end of century time frames. In a very high emissions scenario, for instance, the average daily temperature in Minneapolis at the end of the century would be about 33 degrees. This pretty much corresponds to what Sven Sundergard predicted here in 2021. If only it was as easy for tech to slow down these changes as it is to vividly predict them. 

Libraries: Your Gateway to Free Pro Soccer Games

None dare doubt Racket’s commitment to libraries, so we were excited to learn about a new summer program from the St. Paul Public Library, the Library Passport Program. Presented with support from Minnesota United FC, the program invites patrons to visit as many of the system’s 13 locations as they can. At each branch, you get a sticker for your passport, and you can get a bonus sticker for learning more about what that particular library offers. Collect seven stickers and win a tote bag, mug, and sticker. Collect all 13 and you’re entered into a drawing to win a set of nine 2024 Minnesota Book Award Winner books plus a $25 gift card to Red Balloon Bookshop. Collect all 13 AND four bonus stickers and you have a chance to win four tickets to a Loons game, four passes to watch the warm-up from the field, select Loons merchandise, and a Library Laser Loon tote bag. Racket staffers may not be the target demographic for this program, but that doesn’t mean we might not play along. 

Wait, Duluth Only Has One Record Shop? And It's New?

That's according to our buddy Jay Gabler, the Duluth News Tribune reporter who recently checked in on River City Records & Books—apparently the city's lone dedicated record store. The Lincoln Park shop opened last fall, and we're happy to report, via the DNT, that business is booming despite some customer confusion around the name. (Duluth, famously, is a lake city.) As you may recall, the ol' Twin Ports outpost of Electric Fetus closed in 2021, creating a void that River City manager Dury Nelson was happy to fill. "That was a big part of the community," Nelson says. "Having a record store staple and then not having it for a while, you can tell that it was really bumming people out."

River City has become a community hub, Gabler writes, with in-store performances and loads of reference resources for music fans and musicians. Unlike the Fetus, the place doesn't dabble in head-shop paraphernalia, though the merchandise expands well beyond albums and books; the antique storefront at 1814 W. Superior St. now sells all sorts of dead media like Blu-rays, DVDs, VHS tapes, and, perhaps one day, LaserDiscs. "We don't have LaserDiscs yet, but could in the future," Nelson teases. We're fans already. Click here to revisit Em's feature on the unkillable appeal of VHS.

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