Cheat sheet: MN Caucuses demystified

Seven (7) easy steps, including prep:GOP logo

Participation is the key to the success of democracy.  Caucusing is a little more time-consuming than plain old primaries (usually) but you probably won’t need more than a couple hours, or even less.

Here’s an explanation of the Minnesota Caucus process, in 7 easy steps, with two sample resolutions you can offer to help steer your party to be more “labor friendly.”  That’s what caucuses allow, the chance to influence the party’s platform – for either major party the process is pretty much the same, but if you want to caucus with the Greens party or the Independence party their procedures may vary.

MN DFL logoCaucuses are run by volunteers, using the tried and true Robert’s Rules of Order and adopting any other rules they need as the process requires.  It’s typical that you’ll be given a chance to donate at least once, if not more, but again this is all a voluntary exercise.

Here’s what you need to know and do:

  1. Find your “house district” and precinct name/number, as well as the specific location for your February 7th caucus by following those the link to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website: (you may want to jot down your precinct name for reference.)
  2. Show up.  Seriously, that’s the most important thing.  Talk to your neighbors before and after you sign in at 6:30.
  3. The caucus should convene at 7 promptly, and as things get going don’t be shy about asking questions – everybody is a volunteer, and often half the people in any given precinct are there for the first time.
  4. In your precinct there will be somebody who convenes the meeting, and the first order of business is to elect somebody to actually run the caucus – it may or may not be the convener. Then there will usually be some precinct organizing done, such as electing a “precinct chair” who will be active for the coming 2-year cycle (or longer.)  This is also the time and place to submit resolution such as we’ve attached below to influence your party’s official platform – the most powerful part of caucuses.
  5. Elect delegates – the number varies, but they will represent your precinct at the conventions that follow, from the Senate District level right up to the National.
  6. There are often straw polls or preference ballots.  This year, for instance, there are many candidates vying for the GOP nomination, and yet even the DFL will conduct a Presidential ballot where the alternative to the President Obama would be to vote “uncommitted.” Note: if you’re in a hurry, you may typically vote early in those polls and leave depending on the rules.
  7.  Adjourn.  If you’ve stayed to the end it’s a formal step, but you can always leave whenever you need to, the entire process is voluntary.

About resolutions:

Resolutions often start with “Whereas…”

Whereas is a way to introduce a reason, or a series of reasons, supporting the action item. They’re a form of persuasion, or logical argument, but they’re actually not necessary; the whereas parts let somebody make the case.

Don't buy Right-to-Work; it's a lie!You basically fill in the form and present it to your precinct caucus chair (or some other volunteer) the particular rules and procedures for adopting them will be made clear by your caucus chairperson, but you can start filling out the form at any time.

Considering the two below, you could skip right down to the “Be it resolved…” bit, or you can list some or all of the reasons (whereas) or include your own supporting logic. For instance, you can keep it as simple as “Be it resolved that Voter ID requirements remain unchanged,” Of course, you can lead in with something to the effect of “Whereas voter fraud is virtually non-existent, and changes requiring photo ID would both disenfranchise senior citizens and cost the state a substantial amount of money…” Either is perfectly acceptable, the whereas clauses are an education for the listener/reader.

If you’re at a DFL caucus be sure to change the party name – but since the DFL already supports these two principles in general terms it would be more productive to offer resolutions regarding other priorities, such as taxes, education, etc.

sample resolution #1

Support of Prevailing Wage Resolution

Whereas Minnesota’s Prevailing Wage law protects local workers and local contractors from cheap labor and out-of-state contractors stealing our work

Whereas Minnesota’s Prevailing Wage law is working well, with only 8% of our highway work going to out of state contractors in 2010 compared to non-prevailing wage Dakotas that lose 50% of their highway work to out of state contractors, and the state DOT projects in 2010 came in $67 million UNDER engineers estimates with paying prevailing wages

Whereas when contractors compete on skill, quality, safety, and productivity and not on how cheap they can get labor the taxpayers of Minnesota get a better deal

Whereas any change to prevailing wage that results in lower prevailing wage rates in Minnesota is not in our workers or contractors interest, or the interest of the taxpayers of Minnesota

Be it resolved that the Republican Party should in its platform support prevailing wage in the current form in Minnesota and be opposed to any changes that will lead to lower wages for construction workers

sample resolution #2

Oppose Right To Work Constitutional Amendment

Whereas Right To Work creates a welfare system where workers that are in the collective bargaining unit can opt out of membership and not pay dues while the union is forced to fully represent them and provide them with all the services of a full dues paying member

Whereas collective bargaining power of people that choose to still be members is significantly weakened because of their fellow co-workers choice to freeload thereby causing the majority of workers that want a union to be stripped of their freedom and power by a minority that don’t want to pay for services

Whereas bargaining unit members already have rights under current law not to join the union, not to pay full dues, and to come to union meetings and express their displeasure, or run for elected office, or organize an effort to change their leadership this Right to Work law isn’t necessary

Whereas Right to Work legislation is mis-named, and will not create one job in Minnesota

Whereas Right to Work unfairly targets union organizations and leaves other non-profit organizations unharmed, meaning the Chamber of Commerce is not required to represent members that do not pay their dues

Whereas only 6% of private sector in the United States is union there are plenty of options for people that choose to work non-union, and one person or a small group should not be allowed to undermine the majority when it is a free country and they can go work somewhere else

Whereas workers in Right to Work States make $5,000 a year less on average for doing the same job than the same workers in non-Right to Work states

Be it Resolved that the Republican Party of Minnesota should formally oppose Right to Work in their platform

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About local49

IUOE Local 49 was formed in 1927. Today we are more than 13,000 men and women in Minnesota, North and South Dakota with contracts for highway/heavy and building contractors, well drillers, equipment repair shops, welding shops, sand and gravel suppliers, counties, municipalities, hospitals, school districts, cemeteries, and more.

Posted on January 25, 2012, in MN politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. If you’re not sure where in MN you should caucus, all you need is your address to plug into the Secretary of State’s “caucus finder.” See:
    MN caucus finder

  1. Pingback: Operating Engineers Local 49 Political Staff

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