In their defense, we believe they have noble intentions. They are kind, sensitive and caring individuals. Their campaign literature states they, “want to represent all Duluthians, no matter our age, race, gender, class, occupation and political affiliation”. Duluth City Councilors Em Westerlund and Gary Anderson are, and do, all of these things. Unfortunately, if unchallenged and unchecked, they may soon become one more thing – job killers.
A few months ago, they led the charge to have the Duluth City Council add a discretionary, imprudent roadblock to PolyMet Mining’s rightfully onerous and demanding mining application and approval process. Fortunately, more balanced members of the Duluth City Council voted down their misguided initiative.
It appears that Councilor Westerlund and Councilor Anderson most likely are unaware of, or do not appreciate, how many jobs in our beloved community are sustained by the heavily regulated mining industry in Northeastern Minnesota.
Additionally, approximately one month ago, these same two councilors co-sponsored a Duluth City Council resolution to support pipeline protesters situated hundreds of miles away in another state. We suspect that they did not fully understand and appreciate how their action may have jeopardized thousands of jobs located in our Zenith City. This is not entirely their fault.
The Duluth Area Chamber, and the businesses that provide services and products to the mining industry and the pipeline industry, have mistakenly taken two important points for granted. First, we assumed that our local elected officials understood the positive, powerful impact that the mining and pipeline industry has on thousands of our neighbors, our friends and our families. Secondly, we expected that city councilors would care more about the livelihood of local families supported by local employers.
We were, oh, so wrong. We intend to do far better
Thankfully, the leadership at Enbridge recently began a needed education process. They informed our city councilors that Enbridge lifts up 600 employees in Duluth and Superior. They also pointed out that Enbridge utilizes many local businesses which provide professional services, such as engineering and environmental work. They shared with Councilor Westerlund and Councilor Anderson that Enbridge also works with many area hotels, restaurants, printing companies and other suppliers. They properly made it clear how Enbridge employees buy homes, pay taxes, vote, have children who attend area schools and colleges, spend money at local business and give back to the community. Enbridge has been providing our community this valuable employment for 65 years.
Enbridge is just one of several Duluth-based businesses involved in the pipeline industry and in the mining industry that have been disheartened, disappointed and dismayed by the potentially job killing actions of Councilor Westerlund and Councilor Anderson.
Be assured, the Chamber and the aforementioned employers are committed to making these city councilors aware of the damage that their recent actions have inflicting on some of our best local employers. You will be hearing more from these employers in the near future as they express their disappointment and concern regarding recent city council decisions.
Let us hope that we will all do better at affirming and uplifting our local employers. This will occur as we share our story about the jobs, the investment, and the opportunity these employers bring to our Shining City on the Hill, on the shores of the Greatest of the Great Lakes.
If we are successful at doing so, perhaps one day Councilor Westerlund and Councilor Anderson will co-sponsor a Duluth City Council resolution to support the thousands of living wage, and largely union, jobs provided by local employers involved in the mining and pipeline industries.
Until that day arrives, the Chamber stands prepared to respectfully protest against additional job threatening initiatives co-sponsored by any city councilor.
In unwavering support,
David Ross, President & CEO