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Broadband Brigade Helps Beef Up Labor Standards in Minnesota

The Minnesota Legislature kicked off Memorial Day weekend with its own fireworks on the capitol floor. According to witnesses, both chambers erupted in shouting as Democrats called for a vote on a last-minute omnibus bill. The bill included new broadband labor standards recommended and advocated for by CWA’s Broadband Brigade in conjunction with activists from the Laborers' International Union of North America (LiUna).

The new standards, signed into law by Governor Tim Walz, will allow the Minnesota Broadband Office, tasked with distributing broadband funding, to prioritize those applicants that pay prevailing wages and offer training, health insurance, and retirement benefits. Going forward, companies that receive public funding to build broadband networks will be required to provide workforce plan data to the Broadband Office, including contractors working on the project and wage data. New safety training requirements will tackle the problem of subcontractors who cut corners and help improve worker safety.

CWA Local 7201 President Christy Kuehn commented on the legislation, saying, “CWA has been fighting for affordable, universal broadband access, with proper oversight and accountability, for nearly 20 years. By holding all contractors and providers to high labor standards, Minnesota will ensure that public funds are used to build the high-quality broadband infrastructure that our state deserves without endangering our workers and our communities.”