Minnesota’s Labor Movement is saddened to learn of the death of MN AFL-CIO President Emeritus Dan Gustafson Thursday evening. Gustafson served as the State Labor Federation’s President from 1985 to 1990 and Secretary-Treasurer from 1978 to 1984.
“Minnesota’s Labor movement has lost a true champion for working people,” said current Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy. “When big business tried to weaken Minnesota’s workers compensation system and labor protections in the 1980s, Dan Gustafson led the effort that stopped these attacks.”
"President Dan Gustafson was a big supporter of worker education and a very good friend of the Labor Education Service," said John See Co-Director of the Labor Education Service at the University of Minnesota. "He was one of the early believers in our efforts to use local cable TV to tell workers' stories, to the extent that he occasionally hosted "Minnesota at Work" in its heyday, another venue where he displayed a brilliant mind for politics and finances and history- and how it all fits together. We will always be grateful for his support and friendship."
Entering the Labor Movement in 1947 as a member of the Plasterers Union, Gustafson was elected to lead the Minneapolis Building & Construction Trades Council in the 1960s. While in Minneapolis, Gustafson was instrumental in founding Union Bank & Trust.
“Union members represent a major element of the economy but the labor movement is left out of the financial decisions made by the community," Gustafson told the Minneapolis Labor Review in November 1974. "We create the industrial wealth, build the towns, but someone else always handles the money.”
Judy Gruden was the office manager at the AFL-CIO for many years and worked closely with Gustafson. She remembers him as an uncle figure since her father Dave Roe and Gustafson were colleagues and good friends. She remembers him as a commanding force at the capitol defending the rights of workers and a gentle presence among worker, "A forceful presence that was guided by kindness and fairness."
The funeral service will be at 1pm Saturday, April 6th, 2019 at Washburn McReavy Glen Haven Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be from 11am-1pm.