“After 15 hours of mediation, we reached an agreement that both parties can be proud of,” the local announced Monday morning. Union members will vote on the tentative contract Monday after a five-day strike.

Check back for updates on this breaking story.

The billboard by the Zvago Cooperative at Lake Superior along London Road has some information that might catch your eye: The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) is helping finance it.
HIT is a $6.6 billion fixed income fund that finances 100 percent union-built affordable and market rate residential projects. The trust purchased $13.6 million of Ginnie Mae loans for the $18.4 million project.
“Minnesota has been huge market for us,” says Paul Sommers, Midwest Regional Director for AFL-CIO HIT.. This is the second project in last three years that trust has committed to in Duluth; in 2017, it financed the District Flats at the top of Miller Hill.
The trust’s “bread and butter” is government-insured loans, Sommers said. The developer gets approved for the loan and the trust buys the debt. As debt provider, everything HIT builds is done 100% union and work very closely with local Building Trades Council to ensure requirement. And as Minnesota’s building boom continues, that means a good outloook for everyone involved.
“Minnesota is important to us and has a really favorable environment,” Sommers said. “It’s surrounded by right-to-work states, but in the state itself, both politically and in the amount of activity, it’s very favorable.”
The trust sees trade unions and coalitions as partners as well as clients, Sommers said, as those organizations can invest in the trust as well.
“It’s a great program and they’re a good partner to work with,” said Craig Olson, president of the Duluth Building and Construction Trades. “I encourage all the locals to look into working with them.”

The HIT, established in 1984, describes its work as social responsible impact investing with an objective of providing competitive returns for Taft-Hartley and Public Fund investors and to promote the construction of affordable housing while generating jobs for union members in the trades.

The HIT has done 94 projects valued at about $1.4 billion in Minnesota. About two-thirds of those are in the Twin Cities area, Sommers said. “There’s not another manager out there that active that’s doing what we’re doing and creating, jobs. Minnesota has been a huge market for us and will continue to be, and Duluth will be a part of that.”

Plans are set for this year’s Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day events. This year’s theme is centered around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Give Us the Ballot and We Will Transform the South.”
On Sunday, January 19, the Twin Ports MLK Inter-Faith Service will be held at Gloria Dei Luthern Church in Duluth at 4 p.m. There will be an inclusive worship service that will include various faiths within the community. Light refreshments will be served. The service will be interpreted into American Sign Language.
On Monday, January 20, the MLK Breakfast will be held at Holy Family Catholic church at 7 a.m. The featured speaker is former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who will be delivering a speech in Minneapolis that will be shown on a large screen here in Duluth. This event is free and open to the public.
Gather at Washington Center at 10 a.m. for snacks and hot beverages, free buttons and poster supplies to prepare for the unity march against systemic racism and oppression. The march starts promptly at 11 a.m. and the route is from Washington Center through downtown to the DECC where the MLK Rally will begin at noon.
The keynote speaker at the rally is Autumn Brown. Performers will include the Miziiweykaamikiinaang drum group, the ARE Poets, and the Major Atraktion Dance Group. The Drum Major for Peace Awards will be announced.
Visit the Duluth NAACP website at www.naacpduluth.org for more information.

This year continued the economic recovery from the Great Recession. But while the economy has had 21 consecutive months with unemployment at or below 4%, the top line numbers do not tell the whole story.
The Economic Policy Institute released a series of graphs that help capture the reality of working people across the country.
In 2019, workers finally started to see to some wage gains, but it is going to take much more to raise living standards for wide swaths of the workforce.
EPI’s Top Charts of 2019 tells the story of how working people are doing in today’s economy.
After a slow recovery from the Great Recession, the country is quickly resuming our prerecession course of rising economic inequality—which has been worse for black workers.
By weakening workers’ ability to collectively bargain, refusing to raise a stagnant federal minimum wage, and giving out tax breaks to the richest Americans, policymakers have contributed to this increasing economic divide.
On the bright side, the evidence shows that progressive policies, such as the Fed’s prioritizing of full employment and states raising minimum wages, do make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
In addition, striking teachers in multiple states have shown that calling attention to austerity—in their case, the disinvestment in America’s schools—can bring about real change.
One of the charts, shown above, highlights the role of union membership plays in reducing income inequality.