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Minnesota Agencies

Information on Minnesota State Agencies, Boards, Task Forces, and Commissions

Compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library

Labor and Industry Department

Also known as:
Labor Bureau (1887 - 1907)
Labor, Industry and Commerce Bureau (1907 - 1913)
Labor and Industries Department (1913 - 1925)
Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI or DLI)
Active dates:1887 -

Administers laws relating to rights of employees and employers, including workers' compensation; establishes minimum wages; licenses fee employment agencies; administers apprenticeship programs.


The Department of Labor and Industry was established as the Labor Statistics Bureau in 1887 to protect the rights of working people through the administration and enforcement of laws, rules, and regulations to foster safe and healthful working environments; to insure adequate compensation for work performed; to assist victims of occupational injury and illness; and to license and inspect establishments that use boilers and steam equipment.

The Labor Statistics Bureau collected statistics about the general condition of labor and working people in the state and reported that information to the governor and the legislature. It was subsumed under the Labor Bureau which administered and enforced labor laws.

The department was known as the Labor, Industry and Commerce Bureau from 1907 to 1913 and then it became an official Minnesota state department and renamed the Labor and Industries Department. Also, in 1913, the first workers' compensation law in Minnesota was passed by the state legislature. In 1925, it became the Department of Labor and Industry.

The department was directed by a labor commissioner until 1921. From 1921 to 1965, the department was headed by the Industrial Commission which was made up of three commissioners. One of the commissioners, appointed by the governor with the consent of the State Senate, served as chair of the Industrial Commission. The Industrial Commission had two major functions: the general administration of the affairs of the department, and the quasi-judicial powers in hearings determining disputed claims under the workers' compensation law.

In 1967, the legislature abolished the commission and its commissioners were designated as the Workers' Compensation Commission (now the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals). The new Department of Labor and Industry assumed the Industrial Commission's responsibilities under the leadership of one commissioner appointed by the governor. Its duties included: Accident Prevention (Minnesota OSHA); Boiler Inspection and Steamfitting Standards (Code Administration and Inspection Services); Workers' Compensation; Apprenticeship; Fee Employment Agencies and the Division of Women and Children (Labor Standards).

In 2005, five state construction code and licensing units were consolidated within DLI as a direct result of the Governors' reorganization order. On May 16, 2005, the Department of Administration's Building Codes and Standards Division, the Department of Health's Plumbing and Engineering Unit, the Board of Electricity and the Department of Commerce's Residential Contractors' Licensing Unit joined DLI's boiler and high-pressure-piping groups to form a single division -- Construction Codes and Licensing Division (CCLD).

On August 12, 2020, the Minnesota Senate denied confirmation for Nancy Leppink during the third special session of 2020. She had been appointed commissioner of the department by Gov. Tim Walz in January 2019. 

(Some departmental history information taken from the Dept. of Labor & Industry Web site, Oct. 18, 2007.)

Agency heads:

Malone, E. I. “Bud”, January 2, 1968 - February 1, 1979
Swanson, Russel (Acting), February 1979
Peterson, Harry D., March 1, 1979 - July 10, 1981
Swanson, Bruce, July 11, 1981 - 1983 (?)
Keefe, Steve - 1983 - 1986
Bohn, Ray, 1986 - September 1988
Peterson, Ken, September 26, 1988 - December 31, 1990
Clayton, Ann (Acting), January 1991
Lennes, John B. Jr., February 1991 - November 1994
Bastian, Gary, November 1994 - November 1997
Maglich, Gretchen B., November 1997 - August 20, 2001
Chase, Shirley, September 6, 2001 - 2003 (?)
Volz, Jane (Acting), January 6, 2003 - Feburary 28, 2003
Brener, Scott, April 2003 - July 5, 2007
Sviggum, Steve, July 17, 2007 - November 2010
Valentine, Cindy (acting), November 2010 - January 2011
Peterson, Ken, January 2011 - January 6, 2019
Leppink, Nancy, January 7, 2019 - August 12, 2020 [she was denied confirmation by the Minnesota Senate]
Robertson, Roslyn, January 22, 2021 - August 12, 2022
Blissenbach, Nicole, August 13, 2022 - 

Gov. Tim Walz names new education, health and public safety commissioners. Star Tribune, 12/22/2022.
Walz, Flanagan Announce Cabinet Appointments. News Release (Governor Tim Walz), 12/21/2022.
New labor commissioner is no stranger to the department. Minneapolis Labor Review, March 2021.
Governor Walz appoints Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Office of Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, 1/22/2021.
Chronology of Minnesota workers and their organizations, 1800s-2016 [includes details about labor-related legislation]. University of Minnesota Labor Education Service, 2016.
News clippings and documents. Agencies Notebook Collection, 1967-2022.
Record last updated: 11/07/2023

All information on this group from the Library’s collection of agency notebooks has been digitized. These materials are incorporated into the “documents/articles” section of the record. Please contact a librarian with any questions. The Minnesota Agencies database is a work in progress.

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