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Southside Battletrain Rides Again in a Fiery May Day Celebration

Plus a second unionized MN Starbucks, Amazon workers on strike, Sen. Fatah's fuck-up, and flashing death stats at drivers doesn't do any good in today's Flyover.

(An unnamed parade participant told Racket that they didn't bother pulling permits this year.)
Bryan Frank

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

The Glorious Return of May Day

The Minneapolis parade most resembling a scene from Mad Max: Fury Road returned this weekend. (That’s a compliment, to be clear!) This year, May Day found itself in two factions. As we previously reported, Heart of the Beast Theater opted to forego the whole marching-down-Bloomington bit in 2022, returning after a two-year COVID hiatus as a “political-cultural festival” in the Four Directions Family Center Parking Lot. HOBT partnered with several local organizations, including MIGIZI, Kalpulli KetzalCoatlicue, and Roosevelt High School, for a protest/celebration focusing on the themes of immigration and International Workers’ Day. Southside Battletrain, meanwhile, went with the theme of “big fuckin’ balls of fire” for a parade that brought thousands out to celebrate on a route from the Grease Pit bike shop on 27th and Bloomington to Powderhorn Park. All the Battletrain hallmarks were there: Grilldozer, dinosaur heads, the Ferris wheel, and assorted feats of welding that seem like something from a crust-punk Alice in Wonderland. In Powderhorn, DJs were spinning techno and hip-hop at tents scattered throughout the park, while the Battletrain contingent served up hot tacos to hundreds of hungry revelers. Happy May Day, everyone. Solidarity forever!

Another One! Workers Vote to Form MN’s 2nd Union Starbucks

Last week we reported on Minnesta’s first-ever unionized Starbucks over in St. Paul. On Monday afternoon, votes were counted for the NLRB union election to decide whether workers at the 4712 Cedar Ave. shop in Minneapolis would join ‘em. Yup, by an 11-3  majority! (Two ballots were challenged.) “Oh, it’s an overwhelming majority. We’re feeling very good about the situation,” barista Kasey Copeland told us when her unionizing Cedar Avenue café went public in February. “We are a little nervous about the union-busting tactics Starbucks has been employing, but that doesn’t add up to their mission and values. They don’t scare us.” She wasn’t wrong. Workers at 239 Starbucks locations have filed petitions to unionize, and, so far, more than 40 stores have held elections. Well over 30 have emerged victorious.

Study: Flashing Death Tolls Numbers at Drivers Leads to Death

Like a harbinger of something bad yet to come, highway signage updating drivers on how many people have died on the very road they are traveling on actually increases the likelihood of car wrecks. That’s what a group of researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of Toronto discovered when looking at crash data in Texas. According to them, crashes increased 4.5% in areas where death-toll signage was posted, totaling 2,600 crashes, many of them multi-vehicle, including 16 additional deaths a year. Meanwhile, speed and traffic signage? Those kinds of postings don’t appear to impact crash numbers. Why does this happen? “Our hypothesis is that people get lost in thought and focus on something other than what they need to focus on,” Joshua Madsen, an assistant professor at the U’s Carlson School of Management, told the Star Tribune. Flashing death toll numbers at drivers leads to sad driving, which is also distracted driving.

Local Amazon Workers Walk Out 

Workers remain agitated at Amazon’s MSP1 fulfillment center in Shakopee. The 855,000-square-foot warehouse has become the site of frequent protests in recent years, including a worker walkout late last Friday. Around 100 workers left the facility to voice their twofold disgust: lowered wages and a lack of time off for the Muslim holiday of Eid, which signals the end of Ramadan. “Imagine if you worked on Christmas and Amazon forced you to,” worker Tyler Hamilton said via a statement provided by the Awood Center. “You couldn’t see your families, you couldn’t spend time with them. That would be ridiculous, no one would like that. Amazon is doing that with Eid right now, and they get away with it—just like they got away with lowering our pay as the cost of housing goes up, the cost of food goes up.” How long until local Amazon workers follow the unionization blueprints recently laid out in New York and Alabama? We chatted with a couple folks at Awood, and while there aren’t concrete plans, “there are definitely workers doing powerful organizing at the Shakopee facility,” Dan Stein tells us.

Sen. Fateh’s Fishy Funding Flagged

Somali TV of Minnesota, a YouTube channel with over 170,000 subscribers, isn’t supposed to endorse political candidates due its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. But that’s exactly what happened in the summer of 2020, when Omar Fateh—a rising star among leftists—knocked off DFL incumbent Sen. Jeff Hayden. Interestingly, Fateh just endorsed a bill that would give $500,000 in state funding to Somali TV of Minnesota, reports Minnesota Reformer’s Deena Winter. Shady mutual back-scratching or bad optics born of confusion? Unclear! Fateh, a DFLer, declined to speak with the Reformer, though several experts did talk. “The facts really matter here,” nonprofit lawyer Emmett Robertson told the Reformer. “A lot of organizations don’t really understand these rules, and, frankly, neither do most attorneys.” Adds U of M law prof. David Schultz: “You have the potential here for a quid pro quo.”