Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued the following statements today after the Minnesota Senate, on a party-line vote, voted to oust Labor and Industry Commissioner Nancy Leppink.
“Senate Republicans’ sudden action to remove the Commissioner of Labor & Industry, during a pandemic is a slap in the face to working Minnesotans who are depending on the department to keep them safe on the job.
Nancy Leppink is likely the most qualified and effective person to lead Minnesota’s Department of Labor and Industry. Her expertise was vital in crafting and implement Minnesota’s nation-leading wage theft law.
For Senate Republicans to remove such a qualified leader is a blatantly partisan move that shows why we need a new majority in the State Senate that will put working Minnesotans first.
We will remember how Senators voted.”
“The Minnesota Senate majority today voted to oust Commissioner Nancy Leppink, a champion of workers and their safety. Even as COVID-19 cases are spiking, the Senate majority wants to put an end to the Governor’s emergency powers to protect Minnesotans during the pandemic and keep us safe from the spread of COVID-19. They used a champion for Minnesota workers, who has used all the powers available to her to protect them and their families from this deadly virus, as their collateral in doing so. They’ve thrown Nancy Leppink out of her job for protecting Minnesotans’ lives.
“My office will continue to use all the powers available to us to protect Minnesota workers and their families from COVID-19 — now more than ever. We will continue to use all our power to help Minnesotans afford their lives and live with dignity and respect — now more than ever.”
The move by Senate Republicans is thought to be in response to the extension of the Governor Walz’ emergency powers. Responding to the media afterward Walz said “we did not see this coming.” He further stated that GOP lawmakers undermined the state’s ability to protect workers during a pandemic.
“There will be a reckoning on this,” Walz said.
This is the first time since 2008 that the Minnesota Senate has ousted a state commissioner.