Flaherty has dedicated most of his life to serving law enforcement. Originally from St. Paul, he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in criminal justice, and went on to earn an M.S. in management from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. He worked for the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 12 years before being selected to run the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association in 1986.
As executive director of the largest police officers union in the state, Flaherty fights for a wide range of issues on behalf of the rank and file, from public safety to economic stability. This year, he lobbied for a bill that would expand background checks to all Minnesota gun buyers, noting that an alarming portion of guns in Minnesota are not purchased through federally licensed dealers. He also pushed for financial assistance to support pension funds, securing more than $15 million per year to shore up police and fire pensions.
Mark and LaVonne Froemke
The Froemkes worked hard to provide a voice for the 1,300 union members who were locked out by American Crystal Sugar in Moorhead in one of the biggest and longest-lasting work stoppages in recent memory in Minnesota. On Aug. 11, 2011, after union workers rejected the final offer from American Crystal Sugar, the farmers’ cooperative locked out its workers. The union didn’t accept the company’s proposal until earlier this year.
Mark and LaVonne fought for 26 weeks of extended unemployment benefits for locked-out workers through the Lockout Accountability Act, a bill authored by Rep. Joe Atkins. Mark is president of the West Area Labor Council of the Minnesota AFL-CIO; LaVonne is an employee of American Crystal Sugar. Their peers describe them as passionate, hard-working champions for Minnesota’s working people.
George took over as legislative and political director for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 — aka “The 49ers” — about three years ago, and has lobbied tirelessly for projects that would increase job growth in Minnesota. Working for a union with more than 13,000 members and 11 local offices in Minnesota and the Dakotas, George vigorously promoted frac sand mining at the Capitol this year, pushing to ensure that the practice – and the jobs that come along with it – thrive in the state. He’s also lobbied for other infrastructure projects such as the Mayo Clinic expansion, Bloomington Central Station, and the Mall of America expansion.
A St. Paul native, George attended Sibley High School. A self-described “troublemaker,” he dropped out before graduation, but later received his G.E.D. He attended Inver Hills Community College, and eventually graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in political science. Before joining the 49ers, George worked as a community organizer for AFL-CIO, building labor movements in challenging areas in Minnesota, such as staunchly Republican Wright County. He also serves on a number of boards, including the AFL-CIO General Board, Jobs for Minnesotans – designed to promote Iron Range mining – and the Minnesota Workforce Board.