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Labor Links: Striking Starbucks, Neglected Nurses, Political Pressure

Plus food insecurity in schools, uninsured entrepreneurs, and the Vikes' announcer goes stupid viral in today's Flyover.

Striking workers outside the unionized Starbucks at 234 Snelling Ave. N. in St Paul.
Twitter: @MNAFLCIO

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily midday digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

A Big Ol’ Roundup of Union News

Did you get Starbucks today from the Snelling Avenue location in St. Paul or the St. Anthony one? Scabby behavior, my friend! “Starbucks Workers United is conducting a nationwide [unfair labor practice] strike over the company’s refusal to bargain in good faith,” SWU wrote via a flier announcing today’s “Red Cup Rebellion” labor action. So far, nine Minnesota Starbucks have attempted to organize—six wins, two losses, one withdrawn. Elsewhere in the local labor world: Minnesota nurses, who in September staged the nation’s largest private-sector nursing strike, remain justifiably pissed at the lack of contract progress. The Minnesota Nurses Association announced today that a strike vote will be held November 30. “Hospital CEOs continue to take multi-million-dollar salaries while failing to solve the retention crisis pushing nurses out of the profession, negatively impacting care for Minnesota patients,” reads a press release from the union representing 15,000 nurses. Finally, as you’ve certainly heard, the DFL snatched power in the Minnesota House, Senate, and Governor’s Mansion. What does that mean for organized labor? That’s the precise subject of the latest from Minnesota Reformer’s Max Nesterak, who happens to be the state’s best labor reporter; give it a read here.

Food Insecurity Rampant in Minnesota Schools

There should never be a reason to use the phrase “school lunch debt,” but according to MPR News, it’s an increasing problem for families across Minnesota. Nutrition services directors are reporting record numbers of families unable to pay for their children’s meals, and food shelves are also reporting an influx of users. Ramsey County has already run up a district-wide debt of nearly $65,000—and the school year’s barely started. A big problem, aside from inflation and supply chain holdups, is the end of a federal program that provided funding for school lunches. This past election day, Colorado stepped up to join California and Maine in creating programs to eliminate school lunch debt. Minnesota can probably afford to do that too.  

‘The Uninsured Entrepreneur’

This Twin Cities Business story was actually published a few weeks ago, but it stayed off our radar until it was featured in the latest MNsure Bulletin. In it, Dan Niepow takes a look at the prevalence of the “uninsured entrepreneur,” an all-too common phenomenon in which folks who are building their businesses don’t shell out for health insurance—for themselves or for their employees—and don’t feel comfortable talking about it. (In pitching coverage of this very story for this very Flyover, in fact, I [Em] told my fellow Racket co-founders that don’t have medical insurance, to a chorus of “Get it together, kid!!!”) It’s not just Justin Sutherland, the popular Twin Cities chef whose uninsured status became public after a boating accident earlier this year; lots of entrepreneurs who seem like they have it together (I would never claim to) are walking around without health insurance. TC Biz talks to a few of ’em about why.

Vikings Vox Goes Insanely Viral

“[Paul Allen], the host of 9 to Noon, is KFAN’s most devout sports lover, a manic mega-fan who vacillates between all-consuming joy and devastated agony, depending upon the Vikes score,” I wrote in this 2019 City Pages deep-dive into the culture and success of the ‘FAN. (Think quoting my own writing is lazy? You try co-running a four-person newsroom, buddy!) “I still see sports through the eyes of a 15-year-old,” the radio personality/Vikings announcer told me. “When it comes to legitimately feeling the losses and the wins, one of the things with which I’ve been blessed has been the ability to genuinely feel.” Since Sunday, that genuine ability to feel has gone outrageously viral. Posted to the team’s TikTok, a clip of Allen’s emotional roller coaster during the thrilling 33-30 Vikings win over the Bills has been viewed 1.7 million times, plus another 4.6 million on Twitter. “WOW!!! Paul Allen is a National Treasure!!” LeBron James tweeted earlier today. Do your thing, P.A.: