The Duluth Central Labor Body made some endorsing decisions in City Council races at its meeting last week after screening candidates.
In the District 2 race, it endorsed Dave Zbaracki. In District 4, it endorsed incumbent Renee Van Nett. In the at-large race, it endorsed Terese Tomanek, who was appointed to finish Barb Russ’ term and is now running for the seat.
The body considered endorsing one additional candidate in the at-large race and opted not to at this time.

District 2 City Council
Mike Mayou and Dave Zbaracki screened for the endorsement in this race. Mayou works at UMD and Duluth Public Schools, while Zbaracki described himself as a full-time dad. Both have run for city council positions in past races.
Zbaracki described his top three priorities for the city as streets, sidewalks and public safety issues. “People want cities to do things that cities ought to do well,” he said.
Mayou said his top three priorities were affordable housing, environmental justice — both of which, he pointed out, boosted union jobs — and being a responsive counselor. Both candidates said they strongly supported PLAs.
“Labor keeps the Northland moving,” Zbaracki said.
“I grew up with union values, an will speak up about things that hurt workers,” Mayou said.
The body voted to endorse Zbaracki.

District 4 City Council
Incumbent Councilor Renee Van Nett was the only candidate to screen with the CLB in the District 4 race. She described her top three issues as child care, economic development and housing, and public safety, saying, “city council work is nuts and bolts. I don’t play games about it.” She was elected president of the city council for this term and is a member of AFSCME.
The body voted to endorse her.

At-Large City Council
Five candidates screened with the body in this race: current councilor Terese Tomanek, Ashlie Castaldo, Azri Awal, Pez Davila, and Joe Macor. Davila was not able to attend the screening as he was attending Denfeld High School’s graduation ceremonies but provided extensive written answers.
“Being the program director at Neighborhood Youth Services, we work with many seniors from Denfeld and have worked hard to help those students graduate,” he said in his statement. “Many of them coming from tough home lives, single parents, homelessness, and seemingly without hope. I couldn’t miss this opportunity to see these students gleam with pride as they walke across that stage, some being the first in their entire faimly to receive a diploma.”
Tomanek said her top priorities are affordable housing and getting people back to work through economic support and development. Awal, who said she had experienced homelessness in her life, said housing and transportation were important to her. “The city is beautiful and should be accessible,” she said, adding that her final priority was racial and class equity.
Castaldo said a strong workforce with good economic standing and housing helps build public safety. Macor said investing in infrastructure and fiscal responsibility were key.
When it came for making a case for endorsement, Castaldo said her record as a union officer on a negotiating team speaks for itself. “I’ve been at the table personally — I know the steps it takes to get work done.”
Macor described himself as “a good fit,” while Awal said, “I stand for equity in all facets of life — what I understand is Labor issues are equity and equity is Labor issues.
Tomanek touted her strong campaign staff and experience.
When asked about how, as an at-large councilor, they would ensure to serve the entire community, Awal described her immigrant family’s experience — she was born in Bangladesh — from a marginalized background as a way to be sure she would look for equitable and diverse voices. Castaldo said her own experience with autism has taught her to reflect on ways to remove barriers for others. Tomanek talked about her growing self-education about racial and economic issues.
In his statement, Davila said he supported unions for a variety of reasons: The way the trades can help give kids who aren’t interested in college a way to get started in life, the way they help keep wages high in the community that can then go back into the community and the sense of pride that they bring. He also said he supported PLAs and stressed that taking jobs from union members “doesn’t mean you’ve gotten rid of the union, it means you’ved caused someone to not be able to provide for themselves and their loved ones.” 
The body voted to endorse Tomanek and then decided to not endorse another candidate at this time.

On anniversaries, it’s customary to look back on original events and compare them to today’s, and this newspaper’s anniversary is no exception; Sabrie Akin’s description of a newspaper that promised that “Labor will be handled without gloves by the Labor World, and if need be with knife in hand,” appear often in anniversary issues of this publication over the years. How could subsequent editors not repeat it? It’s a great line!
Last year about this time, I was looking through old Labor Worlds to see what it may have had to say about the influenza epidemic of 1918-20. Studying the past can offer comfort to the present, and I hoped to find perspectives that might have sounded familiar to today’s union members.
Instead, I found myself reading the Labor World’s take on the events that will have their 101st anniversary this month: The lynchings of three Black circus-workers: Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie on June 15, 1920, in downtown Duluth.
Last year, for the centennial, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative was scheduled to address what was expected to be thousands of people at the memorial. Stevenson has worked for years to reverse death sentences of hundreds of people as well as the “lesser” sentences for people wrongly convicted or sentenced; his book, “Just Mercy,” describes the experience of a man who was released from death row after being cleared. But the pandemic cancelled those plans.
This year, Stevenson will be addressing people online through the memorial’s YouTube channel to help mark more than a century of witnessing the events of those days. (By the time you read this, the video should be available on YouTube; search for the CJMM channel.)
How did the Labor World witness it? In some ways, the newspaper was definitely a product of its perspective at that time: It took the accusations against the Black men — that they had assaulted a young woman — at face value, and acknowledges that the reaction of the mob had its own dreadful logic. It went on to call for the rule of law, for justice through following the process. “If the mob had waited the accused men would have been given a speedy and fair trial, and if they were found guilty punishment would have been meted out to them as provided by law. …That is the way of organized government. That is the manner of a sane civili­zation.”
The Labor World left radical opinions to other publications, and a critical look at the justice system and racism was not something it would apply to the events. There was even a wry humor to be found, as it was clear that people in the thriving city of the 1920s exercised a familiar geographic self-congratulation: “But who in Duluth thought that in a few hours a mob would gather and become a law unto itself? It would not be unusual in the South where the blood of men is hot, but in this cold North where folks move cautiously and deliberately, few dreamed of the thing which happened.”
We’ll always see echoes of the present when reviewing the past. And we’ll always take hope and resolve with us as we move toward the future. William McEwen, editor at the time, went on to write: “Race hate, national hate, po­litical hate, religious hate, class hate, sectional hate, neighborhood hate and personal hate, all must be banished if we …are to enjoy real peace and happiness and prosperity…”
Thanks to your support, the Labor World marks another year of moving toward that future. Here’s to many more.

— By Catherine Conlan, Editor

The Duluth Central Labor Body’s meeting on Thursday, July 8, will be all about celebration.
The meeting will kick off at 5 p.m. with brats and other items, as we celebrate meeting in person again after a year of Zoom meetings. The event is also meant to be a way to start collecting gift cards and other donations for Community Services’ work to provide warm holidays for families in need at the end of the year. Contact Beth McCuskey to help volunteer or donate to the picnic or community services,
bmccuskey@hotmail dot com.

An event billed as an opportunity to learn about the “indoctrination” Critical Race Theory poses to Minnesota students was cancelled in Duluth after pushback from the public.

The Center of the American Experiment, a right-wing think-tank headquartered in Golden Valley, had scheduled a presentation at the Northland Country Club for June 17. It was part of the Center’s “Raise Our Standards” tour, a multi-day event across Minnesota in which more than a dozen similar presentations were scheduled.

Northland later issued a statement saying it could not hold the event because of staffing issues. The CAE rescheduled the event at the Holiday Inn Center, but later announced that the event was postponed and a new date would be announced in the future.

Critical Race Theory is an academic theory that has been around for decades and is used to examine and explain systemic racism. It was originally used to dig into the “how” and “why” of systemic racism within the legal system and has been expanded to examine other systems as well, such as health care and finance, and how they perpetuate racial inequality. It is not a curriculum.

The CAE is a regular proponent of school vouchers. “Alternatives to public schools” was one of the topics scheduled for discussion in the presentation. It also regularly holds anti-union events, including a celebration of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision a couple of years ago. That event in Minneapolis was picketed by the Teamsters and other unions.