Statement on actions of 4.15.21 at St. Paul Labor Center

Statement on actions of 4.15.21 at St. Paul Labor Center

The Minnesota Nurses Association represents 22,000 Registered Nurses from diverse backgrounds, including those from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. We are Midwesterners, immigrants, native-born Americans, and Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color and veterans of our armed forces. MNA embraces and supports all of our members.

The staging of the Minnesota National Guard at the St. Paul Labor Center occurred without the approval or discussion amongst the unions that own the building regarding the Guard’s request to utilize the building. MNA, like many unions, has a position against the militarization of police and the use of military force against protestors.  The property itself is owned by a group of Minnesota unions, including MNA. Upon hearing that the Guard were staging out of the Labor Center, members from a number of these unions, including one member of MNA’s Board of Directors, independently arrived to determine who had authorized permission for the National Guard staging to take place.

A difficult and serious conversation should then have occurred about why the National Guard staging was taking place at the Labor Center and whether it should be allowed. However, we became aware from an online video posted by the MNA Board member, the actions that took place appeared to be a disrespectful mocking of our fellow Minnesotans in uniform. MNA acknowledges the sacrifices made by men and women in uniform and their families. We believe they should be treated with respect, and we are grateful for their service.

MNA also acknowledges the pain and trauma being experienced by the BIPOC community.  MNA believes people have the right to protest and participate in causes they believe in, and nurses stand unwaveringly in support of the BIPOC community, including their rights to peaceably assemble. MNA expresses its sympathies to the victims and families of systemic racism, and MNA regrets the actions of an individual member leader that evidently brought embarrassment, anger, or frustration to those National Guard members.

43 Comments

  1. Cliff Willmeng: apologize to the rank and file of MNA, to the members of the NG and RESIGN.
    There is no other remedy.
    I will not relinquish my membership
    MNA as an org does not need to apologize
    This was the action of one individual who was not sanctioned by the Board to act or speak on behalf of the membership.

  2. I expect that the unprofessional board member has be freed of his appointment. Also MNA needs to stop dabbling in politics that are far beyond the bedside with our due money.

  3. A unforgivable attack on the members of the National Guard made up nurses, family members of MNA members and friends and neighbors.
    This sole member should be relieved of MNA membership for such reactionary and unauthorized actions. How completely inexcusable!

  4. I am a Security Officer who has supported and protected MNA staff for years. Regardless of if they are striking or not; I have shielded them from assaultive, and violent patients. My mother was an MNA nurse for as long as I can remember and she was always proud of it. I also happen to be a Veteran of the Minnesota National Guard and it is today that I say I am ashamed of your actions and she would be as well.

  5. As a prior guard member and a nurse, you want to try that again? The guard helped the Minnesota medical community when nobody else would. What happens during the next pandemic or flood? These are members of our state and community just trying to keep the peace, so peaceful protests can occur while preventing people from getting hurt or businesses burned. Most of the enlisted military made up of minority groups so they understand what is going better than most of us. Just makes me ashamed as a nurse that they were treated this way.

    Justin Daniel Garland
  6. Thank you for this statement, however, Cliff should be removed from the board for his actions. His actions are not the representation us members want to portray.

  7. Thank you for the apology. This action that was taken that evening was disrespectful. I am from a family of many military members. This was not nor ever will be ok with me. I have been a union nurse for 23 plus years. I pray I never ever see this happen again. I appreciate everything our national guard and service branches do for all of us.

  8. That is a hollow cowardly response. No one wants a military response to peaceful protesters. The National Guard isn’t there to confront peaceful protesters. They are there to confront violent protesters so that peaceful protesters can protest. Without our military we would be overrun by any number of extremest regimes around the world.
    Redraft your statement with a strong support statement for the National Guard and all military personnel. They are not your enemy they are your ally, your brothers and sisters in solidarity. And by the way you have your job in your union because they are there to protect it. You obviously have confusion among your leadership on the cost of freedom and what is necessary to get it and keep it.

    David , union worker.
  9. The use of the term “evidently” insinuates the MNA’s consideration but not agreement. The MNA regrets only the actions of “disrespectful mocking” to our National Guard but not the statements to the press in which this leader represented us 22,000 nurses? This “individual member leader” not only embarrassed, unsighted anger, AND frustration to the National Guard members, BUT TO MNA MEMBERS, in which you SERVE.
    Poor choice MNA, poor choice.

  10. Totally unacceptable statement on so many levels and embarrassed to be part of my union if this is how stupid it is.

  11. Before the National Guard was given permission to use the union facility all the buildings owners should of been aware of what they are doing. The MNA board member cliff willmeng pretty much disgraced our uniform soldiers. Yelling at them to leave and shouting dont?come back. If this is the type of representation you give your members by having a board of director person disrespect our guard members. Pretty shameful. The guard was called up by the Gov to help keep the peace. They dont have a political agenda. Your MNA board member does have an agenda. The guard is called up when state emergencies dictate it. They are called up to help minnesotans in need of help. They get called up for floods storms snow/blizzards and riots. All in the name of helping keep the people of Minnesota safe. Period. As a former member of the guard and army of 24 yrs who has been called up to help during the floods of Northwestern minn and a practicing RN. When the guard was deployed in front of my hosptial during last yrs riots we did not harrass them or yell at them to “Go Home!” Instead we all said “thank you!” The guard does not disrespect peaceful protests even though they get bricks and rocks and bottles hurrilied at them. They stand firm to help keep the peace. Your board director spoke very differently of the guards mission. I for one as a practicing RN am glad i do not have the MNA as my representation. Very ashamed of your actions. And how long it took to make a statement. Not professional at all.

  12. MNA also stands unwavering with our military and national gaurd. Because I am the MNA. The problem is we all come from different backgrounds and stand unwavering with many different ideas and groups of people. The one thing we all have in common is nursing. So why can’t we just stick with that. What’s best for nurses and our practice. Everything else seems out of that scope. If we can’t focus on this one centralized commonality you are going to inevitably loose support and members.

  13. I would like to know who authorized the use of the building. I would like to know why one member of the Board felt he had the authority to act independently. I would like to know the position statement about the use of police or military against protesters and when this position statement was developed. I believe it may need to be changed. The statement “ brought embarrassment, anger or frustration to those National Guard members” should also read- brought embarrassment , anger and frustration to many MNA members. I am appalled this happened, and think Cliff should be fired. I am aware he was elected, I think a special election should occur regarding his continuing employment with MNA. This was shameful. Our friends, family members who are serving should be applauded, and I believe there are times when troops are needed- not necessarily against protesters but in support of local communities and businesses to help maintain peace against destructive factions. If there is no resolution to this from MNA, I will rethink my long standing ( 33+ years) membership.

  14. He has shamed the nursing profession and embarrassed us He does not represent me in any capacity and I want him removed from the Board immediately. He should also formally apologize to the National guard and to all RNs, especially United MNA.

  15. Hoping the people involved in this incidence are asked to leave representing this union.

    Apology without action is manipulation.

  16. I am embarrassed and ashamed to be associated with MNA. What is happening right now is rioting, not protesting. Our support should be with the National Guard and the police force. Having rocks, frozen water bottles, etc., thrown at these groups is unacceptable beyond words. Talk about prejudice at its peak.
    Let the National Guard use whatever they need to keep us safe. Because that is exactly what they are doing. And please fire that idiot MNA rep. She is definitely not representing a very large portion of the union she is associated with.

  17. I am very appreciative to have the NG here.Their presence through out the city has made a lot of citizens feel safer.

  18. This is not enough of an apology to the National Guard. It has been watered down by your overwhelming support for BIPOC and not including law enforcement.
    If we learned nothing from 2016, we learned we need full support of all MNA members and the public opinion.
    Many viral videos of this incident are on line and to be sure will resurface in 2022 when we go through negotiations again. Please reconsider how you address this situation.
    Sincerely,
    Carol Arnold

  19. Why are there no references to who wrote this “statement”? All other press releases have points of contact except this one. Why not have a list of names of current board members who support this statement in condemning one of their own in defense of the militarized police action in the community? Perhaps, the current board of directors has enjoyed their position as labor broker for the Healthcare professionals and is not willing to make a courageous stand against police brutality against the working class and people of color.

  20. I want to extend my appreciation that the unilateral decision of one union leader to give keys to the building to the Guard was challenged by members of the rank and file. The only embarrassment the union should feel is that the original individual is not chastised for his action.

  21. You are way outside your scope and contract to represent nurses in Minnesota. Those employees who felt they were representing Minnesota nurses should be immediately fired. They have violated their employment agreement to speak for upper management and 22,000 registered nurses in Minnesota.

  22. I believe that the guard is present to keep the peace. The only time any action against protestors has been taken is when protestors CHOOSE to start destroying property or harm the welfare of residents. The guard should be accepted and supported with earnest.
    I support the right to PEACEFUL protest, disrespectful actions against our troops should NEVER be tolerated!

  23. I have always supported unions, and come from a family of many union members, but you people have gone off the rails and are engaged in disgusting behavior toward our National Guard personnel, and you have obviously been taken over by radical extremists. I will do everything in my power to encourage my friends who are members of your union to toss you out.

  24. A palled at this nurses actions

  25. Showing disrespect to our fellow citizens of any color or occupation is appalling, especially to our National Guard! I for one am grateful for the help and protection of property and life that they have provided. Did these people forget how they protected the hospital last year? This action by MNA does NOT represent me or many of the nurses I know! The apology is very weak, I’m not satisfied. I expect more out of my union and it’s representatives! I also expect a public apology, as I heard of this through the local news! Those people need to keep their personal beliefs to there personal property and social media!!! Don’t lump all of us under that umbrella!

  26. This is an absolute shameful, completely inexcusable approval of actions by law enforcement. As nurses, you should be FULLY AWARE of the dangers to public health that the police and other law enforcement create, SPECIFICALLY to our communities of color. The police murdered a man and instead of begging for forgiveness they decided to declare war on the Twin Cities. You should all be ashamed for this statement, you’ve turned your backs on patients and the community. Standing with the police sends a STRONG message to the community and it tells them plain and simple that the nurses that should be protecting and healing their community instead care way more about the feelings of law enforcement. ABSOLUTELY disgusting statement you’ve put up here, shame on all of you. You don’t care about the lives of our neighbors of color. Endorsing the police says that loud and clear. SHAME.

  27. We are demanding Cliff to resign. This was disgusting and this incident has left traumatized.
    You know the NATIONAL GUARDS only respond to rioting protests!! They do NOT disrupt peaceful protests. STOP IT!!! Stop it with that ignorant talk. It’s BS and you know it!
    Thousands of us are angry and disgusted. Do the right thing.
    I wonder how the media would react to this. There’s way more who will completely disagree with this terrible act of HATE. The chanting and yelling at the NATIONAL GUARDS won’t go over well with people all over the world. It was hateful and people will despise the entire organization.

  28. I think this director should step down.

  29. An apology and a suspension or reprehensible action can be a better statement. Your union could have show more respect for our soldiers who are here to protect us. If you didn’t want them there a proper call to the chain of command could have solve it. I hope the gentleman who disrespected our troops will be releaved of their position. We must understand that our feelings can not fuel our actions and you represent more then your own person.

  30. The actions of your board member did not cause frustration and embarrassment to the National Guard, but to MNA. The National Guardsmen remained calm and professional, while the person from your board resorted to name calling and attempted to incite conflict. While not part of MNA, I am a nurse, and let me be clear that you do not represent me, or any nurse that I have spoken with the past few days.

  31. Unfortunately my Union President from CWA7250 was one of the leaders involved in this horrible action. My wife is a MNA member and we both hope Cliff is removed from MNA Board. I am working to get Kieran removed as Local President of 7250.

  32. Another reason to be happy I left MNA in 2017.

    As a 32-year veteran of the military, this disrespect towards the MN National Guard is reprehensible.

    You as an organization can give this non-apology apology, but this is one of YOUR union leaders.

    You can add the subtle attempt at justification of the conduct by proclaiming your opposition to the military being used in a civil role.

    This is NOT a decision made by the Guard members in your building. It rests ultimately the Governor, whom I remember you enthusiastically supporting during the state election. A governor I might add who spent significant time in the military himself, though strangely never deployed anywhere.

    In closing I would like to ask, when the mob comes for you for some perceived or actual slight, will you be calling for help from your labor members or will the police and National Guard suddenly become okay when your lives, livelihood and property are threatened?

  33. I am a White immigrant and member of L464 of the IAFF, St. Cloud firefighters. Disgusted by how the NG was treated would be an understatement and this must be pursued. I am trying my hardest to restrain myself but when my son is in Mpls with the Guard and they are shot at it becomes real personal. Contact me for my perspective or L464 union President Adam Bondhus. As a immigrant I will not be silenced by hatred.

  34. This is disgusting media post. One of YOUR board members treated our National Guard who is there to protect our communities, families and properties from these worthless rioters, better than those worthless rioters. They stand between the hard working people of Minnesota and those that want to tear our state apart. This post does not represent the many nurses I know and support that are paying members of MNA.

    Who gives a rats butt who gave them the keys to open that building. They are there to support us and we have to be there to support them.

    Cliff needs to be relieved of his duties as a board member of MNA, by either special election to get voted out. I am embarrassed that he is a fellow nurse along with the many other nurses that were at the labor building.

    Thank God I have not paid a dime to this worthless union in over 3 years. Did not help me in my union job and you are showing me by these bs posts you do not plan on helping the nurses that are paying your salaries.

  35. I am so disgusted at watching how an MNA board member/Cliff disrespected and belittled our National Guard troops. He needs to be REMOVED NOW ! If he is allowed to stay, then it shows that the MNA organization goes along with this behavior. No matter what you say – MNA – your lack of action speaks loudly. I WILL NOT be represented by a jerk of this caliber. He apparently doesn’t take his job seriously. No one in his position should have the right to treat any of our troops this way. So what are you going to decide MNA? We’re watching. Your decision will help me to decide whether I stay IN this union. He’s GOT to GO ! !

  36. Regarding the relationship of Unions and the National Guard:
    1877: The Pullman Strike
    1914: The Ludlow Massacre
    1934: The Truckers’ Strike in Minneapolis…
    and the list goes on. By September of 1941, the National Guard had been used to put down 18 strikes…and that role continues to this day, broadened to include the breaking up of peaceful demonstrations by force and violence.
    For the National Guard to move into the Saint Paul Labor Center was the ultimate expression of contempt by the National Guard for Unions. This may not have been the motive of the individual guardsmen — they are probably as ignorant of the long history of animosity between the Guard and the Unions as it would seem that many Union members are. The Union members who routed the Guard from the Labor Center, cognizant of that history, also expressed their awareness that the Guardsmen were probably working-class folks like the rest of us — and probably had no idea of the symbolism behind their “invasion” of the Labor Center. Union members who study their history know all too well what the Governor might order them to do. Shooting down striking Union members — as the Guard has been ordered to do in the not-too-distant past is not all that different from being ordered to shoot down peaceful protesters. That, too has happened — and it should never be allowed!

  37. Nurses are a group of compassionate, caring individuals, respecters of ALL persons. Cliffs actions were the opposite, so disrespectful. We’re not a radical political group. Cliff should step down from his position of representing MNA nurses after he publicly apologize’s to the National Guard. He doesn’t represent me. I’m thankful for the NG’s peacekeeping protection they have provided so PEACEFUL protests may occur.

  38. It really is time for MNA to get out of politics and back to the business of taking care of the ill and injured. I’m guessing 30-40% of MNA is conservative; too afraid to talk. MNA is risking it’s own existence by following far left wing politics

  39. This apology is phony and a waste of time when it is not followed by action. The entire Board of directors should be ashamed of themselves. On the same day they released this statement another statement was released, signed by MNA. The “Take Action MN” statement was a call on Walz, Frey, Hutchinson, and Carter for approving “Operation Safety Net” which brought in the National Guard to protect our communities.

    takeactionmn.org.

    Our Union Board of Directors has a warped sense of reality to meet their own political agendas. In this statement, they call the National Guard presence “a preemptive force against our people”. The National Guard is the exact opposite!! They are there to ALLOW for peaceful protests and to protect people from violence in case these protests turn violent, which they frequently have over the last year. Our board has completely lost sight of their own members voices as well as reality. The MN senate drafted a letter demanding the Union leaders step down.

    https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/government-and-politics/6991954-Minnesota-Senate-urges-removal-of-St.-Paul-union-leaders-after-Guard-members-were-kicked-out-of-labor-hall

    They are an absolute disgrace and we need them to demand they all step down. You have lost our support of our communities as well as our government. Good job!

  40. As a 23 yr ICU nurse & a 24 yr former memeber of the Minnesota Army national Guard I was embarrassed at the action of MNA Board member Mr. Cliff Willmeng and several of the unions representatives last wed night. The Minnesota Guard was called up by Gov Walz to help keep the peace and protect its Minnesota citizens. They were afforded the use of the labor Temple by a union rep of that building. They caused no harm to the building nor did they show any disrespect when they were asked to leave. They merely picked up their gear during the evening meal and left quietly. Although I could not say the union activists tjhat showed up were not quiet, nor respectful to the uniformed men & women. Taughting and jeering them as they left. I am a 23 yr nurse, and not an MNA member, but I do support the MNA nurses when they need our support. Im sure Mr. Willmeng was not authorized to speak on behalf of the MNA members he so calls represents. Mr. Willmeng needs to step down or be reomved from the MNA board and also apologize for his disrespectful behavior towards our National Guard soldiers. Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Fred J. LeBlanc, RN

  41. This statement is not enough MNA!! Very disappointing and I’m ashamed to be a part of this Union. You have a chance to make it right and this is the weak attempt you make? I’m seriously thinking of not sending you another dollar!

  42. One of our Directors has violated our bylaws and needs to be held accountable. Our bylaws entrust the Board of Directors to ““ensure that no individual member representing interests which may be in opposition to the goals, objectives, and operations of MNA” (Article VI, section 4 (d). Director Cliff Willmeng has chosen to put his political career, as well as his allegiance to the Green Party, ahead of the interests of the MNA. Mr. Willmeng needs to be removed for violating our bylaws.

  43. Cliff Willmeng has not interest in supporting his MNA members. he disgraced our Minnesota National Gueard members. He has a political agenda, which is not representing union memebers of MNA. I would hope the MNA board of directors is smart enough to recognize this and terminate his board of director position immediately.

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