Local Chronicles: St. Paul’s Milestone, Labor Struggles, and City Dynamics

This week’s edition covers stories 
from January 4th, 2024 to January 10th, 2024.

Today’s issue is 800 words, a 5-minute read.

Mateo talks St. Paul’s All-Women Council, Workers Strikes Nationally, Fentanyl crisis and impact on Minneapolis Public Schools and the end of the Vikings Season

Hey Folks, Mateo here. In this edition, we’re diving into St. Paul’s groundbreaking all-women city council, Downtown Minneapolis janitors advocating for better wages, the Minnesota Vikings, and more. Get ready for a deep dive into the most relevant news from around the state! 

First, history is made as St. Paul introduced their first all-women city council, consisting of seven women, all under forty, with significant BIPOC presence. Four of the seven members are newly elected, a trend becoming more common around the country, making strides towards further representation in local government.

St. Paul’s first ever all-women city council 📸 Asmeret Photography

As the workforce increases and the support for workers continues to become stronger, we are starting to see more and more demands for better wages, increased benefits, and improved working conditions. These demands have led to strikes and other forms of protest, accounting for nearly 400 strikes in the US in 2023. Some of the larger strikes include the United Auto Workers strike against major automotive companies, a coalition of unions striking against health care company Kaiser Permanente, and the Writers Guild strike that lasted over 100 workdays. Well, here we are in 2024, and Downtown Minneapolis janitors are threatening to strike, as their union contract has come to an end and they are now ready to negotiate. According to secretary treasurer Brahim Kone, members are currently making $18.62 per hour, and the workers are proposing an increase to $22 per hour. Others mentioned the lack of retirement benefits. While they are attempting to avoid a strike if possible, it could become reality if nothing results from the discussions with employers.

Lourdes Tapia, a member of SEIU Local 26, speaks to members gathered outside of Hennepin County Government Center for a march through the Minneapolis skyway on Thursday, December 7, 2023. 📸 Aaron Nesheim | Sahan Journal

Fentanyl continues to become cheaper and more accessible – increasing the risk of exposure, especially to children. The largest fentanyl trafficking bust in Minnesota history has finally progressed, as six people have been charged for their alleged roles in trafficking pills between August and December 2022. The result of the bust was over 280,000 fentanyl pills, valued at more than $2 million. 

Minneapolis South High School 📸 KSTP

Minneapolis Public Schools are also witnessing the impact of Fentanyl, as internal security reports that have been released show that a student was found smoking fentanyl inside a bathroom at South High School in November. The same employee who released this report has made it clear that this was not an isolated incident, and many staff and community members are aware of the use of fentanyl among students. 

Camp Nenookaasi before the eviction 📸 Unicorn Riot

Not too far from South High is Camp Nenookaasi, a homeless encampment referenced in recent editions. City of Minneapolis officials had been discussing an eviction of the encampment for months, and it kept getting delayed. That is, until last Thursday, the 4th of January, when police surrounded the camp and forced them out. It is important to note that there was no significant conflict between the police and the people living there, as camp organizers maintained a peaceful move out. With the large number of people who lived there, local shelters and housing services reached maximum occupancy early last Thursday. The majority of the rest of the unhoused moved just three blocks south – to another city-owned vacant lot.

Kirk Cousins carted off following injury 📸 ESPN

The Minnesota Vikings season is officially over, as the 2023 regular season has ended, and the Vikings did not make the playoffs. At 7-9, they needed many things to fall into order for them to make the playoffs, including several unlikely wins from mediocre teams, but it didn’t matter as they lost to the Lions in the final game of the season to be eliminated from playoff contention. This season has been a painful one for Vikings fans, as it has been plagued by injuries, none bigger than the season long loss of Kirk Cousins, the Vikings starting quarterback, who suffered an Achilles tear in week eight. Vikings superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson missed seven games during a crucial part of the regular season, and star tight end TJ Hockenson suffered a gruesome knee injury in week 16, tearing both his ACL and MCL, ending his season. The list continues, but the season doesn’t. The Vikings will now look forward to an eventful offseason, one in which they will have to make some important player and personnel decisions in order to plan on competing in the NFC North division in 2024. The Lions were the best team in the North in 2023, and it wasn’t particularly close. The Packers had the second best team (after Vikings’ unfortunate string of injuries), and they are one of the youngest teams in the NFL, and made the playoffs. The Bears went 7-10, the same record as the Vikings. The Vikings have some work to do before 2024, but first, it’s time to get healthy.

That’s all from us, we’ll see you next week!

-Mateo, and the NewPrensa team

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