Minnesota AFL-CIO president to speak at annual Grand Forks Workers Memorial event

Bernie Burnham will be guest speaker at the event to honor men and women who died while on the job in 2021. The public is welcome to attend.

Bernie Burnham, who was elected in December as president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, will be the guest speaker at the Workers Memorial event, to be hosted by the Northern Valley Labor Council. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28, at the IBEW Hall, 1714 N. Washington St.

GRAND FORKS – The president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, Bernie Burnham, will be the guest speaker at the annual Workers Memorial event, set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 28 at the IBEW Hall, 1714 N. Washington.

The public is invited to the event, which includes a service held in honor of the men and women who died while on the job in 2021, according to Mark Froemke, president of the Northern Valley Labor Council.

A representative of the Grand Forks Firefighters will be on the program, speaking about being a frontline worker during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The free event, organized by the Northern Valley Labor Council, will take place in the IBEW Hall basement. A picnic will be provided, at no charge, after the service.

Burnham was elected as the 10th president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO in a unanimous vote of the organization’s General Board in December. As a Pacific-Islander, she is the first person of color to serve in that position.


Before her election to the presidency of the state AFL-CIO, Burnham served as vice president of Education Minnesota, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, since 2019. She succeeded Bill McCarthy, who retired in February.

In 2021, she co-chaired the Minnesota AFL-CIO’s Committee on Racial and Economic Justice.

She worked 14 years as an elementary school teacher and was actively involved in the labor management process in the Duluth public school system for nine years, four of those before she was elected president of the Duluth Federation of Teachers. She served as DFT president for five years.

In a statement released after her election as president of Minnesota AFL-CIO, Burnham said she is “committed to continuing the Labor Movement’s fight for a state where everyone earns a fair return on their work, where every child can pursue their dreams and where every family that’s struggling today will get what they need, things like accessible healthcare, modern roads and bridges, safe housing, and world-class schools.”

For more information on Thursday’s event, call Froemke at the IBEW Hall, 701-775-7601.

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at or (701) 780-1107.
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