On Wednesday, the state of North Dakota is helping sponsor the Governor’s Workforce Development and HR Conference in Fargo. Normally, partnering for solutions to our workforce issues is a good thing. Helping workers by investing in training and creating an environment attractive to employees are great goals.

So why in this admirable-sounding conference, are anti-worker lawyers being brought in from Minneapolis to do a presentation on labor law of all things? Dominic Cecere’s and Joel Abrahamson’s official biographies read like a hit list against American working families, protecting corporations against Americans with Disability Act compliance, helping businesses avoid unionization, standing against workers in unjust firings and more.

Yet despite working families’ complaints, our state still believes that labor law would be best presented by those who make their living out of guiding business clients through loopholes in that law.

How is it a good thing to use our limited state resources to give anti-worker lawyers a platform to drum up business against North Dakota workers? Why aren’t neutral labor law presentations given by the Department of Labor? They are charged with enforcing the law, and they should be capable of presenting it to others.

At 2.3 percent, we currently have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. North Dakota’s current need is not for a more business-friendly climate. More urgently, we require more worker-friendly policies. We need entice more working families to this state and keep those we have by protecting their safety, paying them well and treating them fairly. None of this is served by the state sponsoring lawyers with an anti-worker agenda.

Taxpayer money should never be used against working people, and if those responsible keep insisting on an anti-worker program then the state needs to stop sponsoring this conference.

Waylon Hedegaard, Bismarck

Waylon Hedegaard is president of the North Dakota AFL-CIO.

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