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Guest opinion: Montana needs governor on workers' side

Guest opinion: Montana needs governor on workers' side


This Labor Day I want to thank the workers of Montana — and especially those engaged in the labor movement.

Giving Montana’s working families a chance to get ahead is the fight of my life. It’s my fight because I come from one — and I’m running for governor because I think working families deserve a champion to lead this state into the future.

Time and time again, unions have had my family’s back as we worked hard jobs and long hours to support ourselves. Both my grandfathers were union workers with the Anaconda Copper Company. One was a World War II veteran turned sheet metal worker at the smelter in Great Falls, and the other was a Navy man turned hoisting engineer at the mines in Butte. Thanks to their union, my grandfathers could rely on health care when they got sick, a living wage to support their families, and safety measures to protect them in a dangerous workplace.

My mom, too, found partnership and support from her Teamster brothers and sisters while working for our local school district.

I've followed in my family’s footsteps. As a teacher and a public employee, I’m a proud member of the Montana Federation of Public Employees. At every twist and turn in my life, I’ve found allies in my union brothers and sisters.

My grandfathers and their communities saw firsthand what can happen when a company packs up shop and leaves their workers high and dry.

But where corporations fail, unions follow through.

Unions are there to support their members. They support parents who struggle to balance raising families with their work schedule. They support people who need to work and care for a loved one at home whether it be an elderly parent, a chronically ill partner, or a kid with disabilities. They support people who are working with preexisting conditions like diabetes or epilepsy. They help members find new jobs when factories close.

Every time I’ve hit hard times, my union has been there for me. As governor, I want to provide that same support for Montana families.

Montana’s economy is changing, and fast. New tech companies are coming to Montana. The outdoor tourism industry is shooting forward. The demand for skilled labor in manufacturing is at an all-time high.

Montana needs a governor who’s looking out for the little guy. Someone who’s making sure all this change is helping our economy grow at the top and at the bottom.

But with folks like Greg Gianforte running for governor, worker’s rights are on the chopping block. Gianforte claims he wants to run Montana like a CEO would — for working families, but we know that’s code for huge profits at the top, and the rest of us scrambling for breadcrumbs.

I’m running because I don’t want to see that happen.

As Montana’s next governor, I will fight tooth and nail for our nurses and teachers. For the workers in Colstrip whose jobs are in jeopardy and feel they have no backup plan to support their families. For the construction workers and caregivers, and for the unions who gave us weekends, the 40-hour work week, paid vacation and sick leave. It’s been the fight of my life, and with your support, I’ll take that fight to Helena.

Casey Schreiner, D-Great Falls, serves as Montana House minority leader.


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