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Goal and objective: A level playing field.
by Alan L. Maki, Guest Contributor – Photo by IBNN NEWS
St. Paul, MN (IBNN NEWS/Op Ed/November 22, 2011)…All the talk about a new Vikings’ Stadium, the need for infrastructure development and repair, talk of light rail and other large-scale public works and joint public-private initiatives and projects begs the question: What will be done to end racism in employment here in Minnesota that has historical roots combined with present indifference?
Fact: People without jobs are destined to be poor.
Unemployment, under-employment and poverty-wage jobs are the root of poverty.
Poverty is more than statistics. For living, breathing human beings, poverty means going without adequate food, clothing, health care, education, housing, and transportation.
When unemployment rises well beyond the “normal” levels for people of color, women and the handicapped, Affirmative Action as articulated and defined by Federal Executive Order Number 11246 must kick in unless we end up with large pools of unemployed in communities— and on Indian Reservations— of people of color which hurt us all, but no where near as much as it harms the victims of racism in employment.
These large pools of the unemployed serve to push down wages and living standards for everyone.
The enforcement of Affirmative Action will help make sure Minnesotans get the jobs funded by Minnesota tax-payers rather than workers from other states.
The enforcement of Affirmative Action will lead to encouraging and strengthening small businesses and entrepreneurship among minorities as minority contractors help recruit people of color through the enforcement of Affirmative Action.
Politicians who pander to the voices of bigotry, racism and hate often claim that advocating for the enforcement of Affirmative Action is so controversial that its enforcement creates divisions in society which tears apart our social fabric. In fact, issues like a new Vikings’ Stadium, as we have seen, are themselves very controversial.
Politics embodies controversy.
The Governor of Minnesota has the responsibility to provide leadership in the just struggle for the enforcement of Affirmative Action in a way that guides Minnesotans to creating a level playing field for everyone.
Governor Mark Dayton should establish “The Minnesota Governor’s Advisory Committee for the Enforcement of Affirmative Action” and this Committee shall consist of: one member representing the Governor, one member each from the AFL-CIO & Change To Win, one member each representing the following firms: public relations, architectural, engineering, general contractors and minority contractors, with two members representing each of the following communities: Black, Native American and Hispanic with at least one member from each of these communities being among the unemployed; three women and one handicapped representative— 18 members in total.
All members of this Advisory Committee shall participate, together, in at least one training session explaining the history, goals and objectives of Affirmative Action and must be made aware of the present problems relating to how racism in employment has led to current social and economic problems in the specific communities of people of color, women and the handicapped.
This Advisory Committee shall present concrete goals and objectives in reviewing all public funding where there is any type of state involvement in funding and financing including proposals for bonding bills and any joint public-private ventures in which more than $20,000.00 in public funding is involved and/or more than 15 employees hired.
The loop-hole preventing enforcing Affirmative Action must be closed by the Governor and State Legislature refusing to participate in any township, city, county, state, park’s commission, school district, college or university where there is not an Affirmative Action Policy in place being enforced.
Affirmative Action must kick in when any project is first publicly proposed or there is significant public-private cooperation towards project development— whichever occurs first; long before the first shovel is sunk into the ground.
It is up to the parties involved to implement Affirmative Action in a timely manner so as to prevent project delays which might lead to additional costs incurred by tax-payers. Where this is not done, any costs relating to project delays should result in fines levied at the direction of the Advisory Committee on the parties responsible.
Affirmative Action is the law of the land. For the victims of historic racist employment practices continuing today which results in the need for the enforcement of Affirmative Action, Affirmative Action is both a Human Right and a Constitutional Right.
The Governor of Minnesota has a Constitutional responsibility to see to it that Affirmative Action is enforced. This Advisory Committee provides the Governor with the tools to achieve the enforcement of Affirmative Action.
People should not have to resort to law suits, direct action and other means of protest in order to have their right to employment protected.
Everyone has the right to seek employment from a level playing field.
A means to enforce Affirmative Action on the Vikings’ Stadium (and all other projects stated above) in line with stated goals and objectives must be found before planning for this project proceeds any further.
I am submitting this “Proposal for a Minnesota Governor’s Advisory Committee for the Enforcement of Affirmative Action” for consideration to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton upon request from Micah Hines, General Counsel to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, who requested I submit this proposal in writing to Governor Mark Dayton.
Alan L. Maki is the Director of Organizing for the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.