Lindstrom wins union’s highest honor

Kevin Lindstrom, president of the Minnesota State College Faculty, became the first higher education member to win Education Minnesota’s highest honor, the Peterson-Schaubach Outstanding Leadership Award.

The award was presented to Lindstrom at Education Minnesota’s Representative Convention in April.

“Kevin started at the state level (leadership in MSCF) in 1995,” said Shelli Arneson, a faculty member at Rochester Community and Technical College and the Education Minnesota Governing Board member who nominated Lindstrom. “Imagine, since 1995, he has been actively, tirelessly, engaged in fighting on behalf of faculty, students, two-year institutions, in our community and the common good which is public education.”

Lindstrom started his career in higher education as a counselor at Anoka Technical College. He first became active in the union as his campus’s grievance rep. He has served on the negotiations team for many, many rounds of bargaining and served as the technical college vice president from 2009-13 before being elected president. Lindstrom decided to not run for reelection this year, but does plan to go back to teaching.

“There is nothing I like more than being in a campus environment, being in a classroom and working directly with students,” Lindstrom said. “I have enjoyed this work immensely, but I have missed that campus-based part of it a lot.”

Lindstrom has often been a bridge between Education Minnesota’s higher education and K-12 members. He worked with high school teachers across the state to deal with changes to the concurrent enrollment system.

“We spent a lot of time talking and learning from each other,” Lindstrom said. “Then we sought solutions that respected all parties. I think that’s what Education Minnesota leadership is all about and what we have done all throughout our history.”

His colleagues credit Lindstrom with being an architect of the MSCF contract, which they describe as “the envy” of the rest of the country.

“(Our contract) is what makes working in higher education in Minnesota unique,” said Matt Williams, current MSCF vice president, who is taking over for Lindstrom as president this summer. “That is largely credited to Kevin’s vision and also his depth of knowledge about how stuff fits together. He has a sense of creativity of what a contract does, how it works, how things get put together. In the realm of negotiations, he really has been 'the guy.'”

Through his years in leadership, Lindstrom has never lost his focus on his members.

“His defining principle as he approaches everything is, what is in the best interest of the largest number of faculty in our union,” said Mark Grant, the director of government relations for MSCF.

Lindstrom has also never forgets to look toward the future.

“There is an urgent conversation in this country about the future of the labor movement, a conversation made even more urgent by the Janus decision and the attacks we expect to come,” said Williams, in his nomination letter. “While some leaders would double down on what they already know and resist any notion of change or transformation, Kevin has wholeheartedly embraced the need for new strategies, tactics and new leaders.”

“As I leave, I hope my legacy is inviting change that reflects a new reality and leaving the new leaders in a position where they feel they are ready to hit the ground running," Lindstrom said.