Labor Happy Hour

"Union Busting in Wisconsin 

A Cautionary Tale"



Crown Plaza Sky Garden

May 14, 5:00-8:00

618 2nd Avenue South, Minneapolis.

We want invite you to a Special Happy Hour in the beautiful Crown Plaza Sky Garden. This is sure to be a fun and enjoyable evening socializing with friends and colleagues. 

Appetizers will be provided and there will be a cash bar. While the event starts at 5:00 our guest speaker Angela Marlow will present at 6:00 pm. Angela was a Public Employee in Wisconsin and will share her stories of what happened to her and all Public Employees when Scott Walker became Governor.   

While we wish it were not the case, Labor Unions are under attack by big corporations who are trying to bust up Unions so that they can reduce wages and benefits only to increase their profits. 

Many people in Wisconsin thought that could never happen, but it did. Wages were slashed and benefits were taken away. What happened in Wisconsin is real and we want to be as informed as possible so this never happens to us.   

We hope you can attend this enjoyable and informative evening. In case the weather does not cooperate (this is Minnesota) the event will be held inside. ~ The Education, Engagement, and Outreach Committee of all Six Locals in Hennepin County.



Council 5’s Month of Service

That month will culminate in a Day of Action, Celebration and Service on Saturday, April 25th. We will meet at the Martin Luther King Center, 270 N. Kent St, St Paul MN by 10:00 am for a spring clean-up of the Rondo neighbor-hood. 

RSVP on our Facebook page

This action honors the sacrifices made by the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers. This keeps alive our union’s legacy with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of gaining respect and rights for all workers. The clean-up is followed by a meal at 12:30 PM and ends with a celebration at 1:00 PM. The keynote speaker will be AFSCME’s Bill Lucy, who helped the Memphis sanitation workers in their fight to organize. The day will end wrap up with the movie, “At the River I Stand” which documents the Dr. King’s last days in Memphis as he acted to settle the sanitation workers strike.  

Here’s a sampling of what we’re doing to “keep the dream alive”  

AFSCME Local 34 has scheduled a volunteer event as our part in the month of service. 

Please contact Kay Powell or Jean Diederich, via email, to sign up to participate.  

We will have t-shirts to wear that have “I Am A Man” to honor the Memphis sanitation workers as we work on our projects to benefit others. Your children can help – see age limits by the event.  

This event is at Second Harvest, 6325 Sandburg Rd, Suite 1700, Golden Valley MN, on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. We will pack food at the ware-house. You must be over 8 to participate. We need 15 volunteers for this event. Check the Local 34 April Newsletter for additional information.




What's Abood all about?

The Supreme Court unanimously agreed in 1977 that public workers had the right to join together and form a union that would exclusively represent them in collective bargaining negotiations. The court also ruled that union members could vote to collect a “fair share” fee from workers who receive union benefits.

In other words, the Supreme Court said that when employees of a local government democratically vote to form a union, they could also decide that all workers should share the cost of union representation since all workers benefit from the higher union wages and benefits. That case was called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.

Now, a new case known as Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association is making its way to the Supreme Court. It is a direct threat to the rights established by Abood nearly 40 years ago. In Friedrichs, a group of teachers claim that paying fees to a union they do not wish to belong to is a violation of their First Amendment Constitutional rights.

If the Supreme Court decides to take the case (and experts expect they will) and the justices side with the anti-union forces, it could seriously weaken our efforts to negotiate good wages and benefits for workers. That’s why AFSCME’s internal organizing efforts are so important — to blunt any adverse impact of a decision overturning Abood. ~ AFSCME

United Labor Center, 

 312 Central Ave. SE

Third Friday of the month, 6:00 pm 

Room 356 or 467

Snacks, beer and soda will be available during the films. Donations appreciated!

 Established in April 1950, AFSCME Local 34 represents over 2000 Social Service employees of Hennepin County.

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“You don’t do things because of the rewards or because someone may remember you after you are gone. The satisfaction is in the doing. Whether or not someone remembers does not really matter.” ~ Esther Eggertsen Peterson

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AFSCME Local 34                  Updated 4/20/2015

"Public workers teach our kids, heal the sick, protect our communities, plow our roads, clean our water, and much more. We take care of Minnesotans with one of the leanest government workforces in the United States. Minnesota’s government (federal, state and local) workforce is the 4th leanest in the entire nation, according to the most recent employment data from Gallup. Taxpayers deserve the best possible government for their hard-earned dollars. AFSCME members are proud to deliver the services that make Minnesota a better place to live, learn, work and play". ~ AFSCME Council 5



Wage Theft?  Or is Life Theft the Bigger Issue?


Many if not most of us have done it, we’ve worked through our lunch, worked through our breaks, started working before our shift, continued working after hours.  In some areas we may be compensated for the extra hours, but in many of our work areas we are working off the clock and working for free.  

In our jobs we are often put in an impossible situation: We are told that we can’t work overtime, yet we are given workloads that simply are not doable in a 40 hour week.  If we don’t work overtime, we don’t get our work done.  This puts us at risk of being disciplined for not meeting department “standards”.  Yet we are afraid to request overtime pay because we are worried we will be questioned or disciplined for not completing our work within the regular work hours.

So we often silently work extra hours that we are not being paid for. It is wrong and in most cases, it is illegal to not pay us for the time we work.  This is what is called “wage theft”.  Just as one example, if we work through our 15 minute paid breaks every day, in a year’s time we will have worked 130 hours for free. 

In addition, many Hennepin County workers are not using earned vacation hours because of the workload and feeling they can’t take time off.  Workers have hit the vacation accumulation limit, meaning they are also no longer earning vacation hours for their hours of work.

Wage theft can take many forms.  The estimated price of wage theft, in all its forms, is that it costs American workers more than $30 billion a year. To put this in perspective, in 2012, all of the burglaries, robberies, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts in the nation cost their victims less than $14 billion.

But there is even possibly a larger issue here, what one worker refers to as “life theft”.

In areas where we are being paid overtime or comp time for working additional hours, workers are still being cheated.  Time spent working after hours is cheating us out of our free, non-work time.  It is cheating us out of our family time, social time, relaxation, and time to do the other things that are important to us.  As many workers have expressed, it causes extreme duress and stress in both our work and personal lives.   

The issue is not our problem as workers, and we should not be forced to pay for it.  The issue is that there are simply not enough work hours to complete the work we are given. The issue is there are not enough front-line positions to meet the needs that Hennepin County is committed to meeting. Everyone suffers when we don’t have adequate time to do our work- we suffer, and the communities we serve suffer as well.  Imagine the incredible work we could do for those we serve, if we only had the appropriate number of staff to do it.  One has to wonder why Hennepin County keeps adding management layer upon management layer, when there are clearly not enough front line workers to do the most important work of Hennepin County.  

May 1st or May Day is celebrated around the world as “International Worker’s Day”.  Although it is barely recognized in the United States- it was in Chicago that “International Worker’s Day” was born, after the fight that won U.S. workers the right to an 8 hour day.  This struggle continues to be relevant today, as we see our right to an 8 hour day being stripped away.  

In Hennepin County many of us have flexible work hours meaning we might work more than 8 hours in a day to work less another day, but the idea is the same.  We should only be given the amount of work that is doable in a 40 hour week or 80 hour pay period.  

We, the workers, are the ones who make this county work.  We do very difficult jobs, often in very difficult situations.  And we want to do the best for the individuals and communities we serve.  But our good work and good will should not be taken advantage of by our employer.  We have the right to be paid for absolutely every minute that we work.  We have the right to be able to leave our work behind, at the end of our work hours.  And we have the right to be able to use our hard-earned benefits.  So let’s call for an end to cheating us out of wages and cheating us out of our lives.  We deserve better! ~ AFSCME Local 34


The 8 hour workday was won over 100 years ago but we are steadily losing that right through workloads that often force us to work overtime and for free. 

The Education, Engagement, and Outreach Committee is collecting data through use of a "mock timesheet" on how much workers are working overtime for no pay. The "timesheets are anonymous" and will be used to evaluate workloads and proper compensation for workers exceeding a 40 hour work week. Be a part of this important project and forward your data to AFSCME representatives.

Click here to download one of the timesheets



Workday Break - It’s your Right!  

Celebrate the History of the Labor Movement and the Struggle for the 8-Hour Work Day! 

May 1st is International Workers Day 

Come and celebrate the benefits we enjoy because of unions fighting for worker’s rights in the past. Organized by the Action & Education Committee of AFSCME Local 34 and Local 2822. Refreshments will be provided.

Date, Times & Locations: May 1, 2015

  • 11:00—1:00 at Century Plaza (Lunchroom), NW Hub (Lunchroom), North Hub (Break Room), Government Center (Room A1412), Brookdale (Meeting Room), Ridgedale (Room 172).

  • 11:30—1:00 at South Suburban Hub (Room 174) and 1800 Chicago (Room N140);

  • 12:00—1:00 at HSB (Room 110) and FJC (3rd Floor)

International Workers Day March

May 1, gather at 2:30 pm - Lake & Nicollet, Minneapolis. March to downtown Minneapolis. Rally: 5:00 pm at the end of the march at Hennepin County Government Center North Plaza ("People's Plaza"). Read more. Thanks to AFSCME Local 34 workers at Hennepin County, for endorsing the May 1st March! Gracias a AFSCME Local 34, trabajadores del condado de Hennepin por endorsar la marcha del 1ro de mayo!  


Local 34 Officer Election! There is one contested race for Executive Board Member at Large: There are three open positions and four candidates: Kenneth W. Garnier, Sharon Streeter, Angel Alexander, Mohamed Falag. Voting for contested races will be done by mail-in ballot in the following manner: Beginning Monday, April 6 a ballot will be mailed to each member’s last known address. A self addressed stamped envelope and a balloting envelope will be provided to return the marked ballot. You can vote for up to three of the candidates. Members will have until Monday, April 27th to return their marked ballot. Any ballots postmarked after April 27th will not be counted. Ballots will be counted April 30, 5:30 p.m. at the Local 34 office. 

Note: New ballots were mailed to Local 34 members around April 6 indicating members can vote for "up to 3 candidates" for Executive Board Member at Large - the original ballot indicated members could "vote for only one".

The return envelope has a green dot by your name in the upper left hand corner of that envelope.  Please use that ballot and return envelope for voting.  

We apologize for any confusion this error may cause and thank you for taking the time to vote.

New Local 34 Staff Representative Assigned! We have a new staff representative for Local 34 - Michael Lacoste. Please join us in welcoming Michael to Local 34. He brings a wealth of knowledge about union activism, negotiations and growing unions during his years of service with UNITE HERE. We wish to convey our deepest thanks and appreciation to brother Matt Nelson for 15 years of service to the members of Local 34. He will truly be missed! We wish him well in his new assignment. We expect that Matt's last meeting with Local 34 will be the May 6th General Membership meeting. We will also take time out to recognize outgoing officers and welcome all of the newly elected officers of Local 34 at the May 6th meeting. 

1,000 AFSCME Members Rally for Quality of Life in Minnesota! Members of AFSCME Council 5 rallied in Saint Paul yesterday, 1,000-plus strong, calling for the legislature to adopt a state budget that delivers quality of life for all Minnesotans. The rally came the same day that Minnesota House Republican leaders released a budget calling for budget cuts to human services programs, despite a projected state budget surplus of nearly $2 billion. “They want to fill potholes with human services workers,” charged Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5. “Their plan is to fill the potholes with your jobs,” said Seide, addressing the crowd of AFSCME members at the Crowne Plaza Hotel as part Council 5’s “Day on the Hill.” Read more at Workday Minnesota

With just weeks left of Minnesota’s Legislative Session, Committees are putting together their budgets. The House has released their Health and Human Services budget, and the Senate will do so shortly.

As health and human service professionals it is no secret to you that health and human service programs continue to be underfunded. Each year, far more funds are requested from the legislature than are available —even with this year’s surplus in the State’s budget.

What you can do TODAY—

  1. Contact Senator Lourey, Chair of the Health and Human Services Budget Division (even if you are not in his district).

  2. If your Senator sits on the Health and Human Services Budget Division email them as well.

    • To find contact information for your legislators, click here.

    • Health and Human Services Budget Division Committee Members, can be found here.

The Message—
As a member of the Minnesota Social Service Association (MSSA) and a health and human service professional, I am concerned about the lack of funding for health and human services programs across the state and urge you to adequately fund the following MSSA priorities:  

  • Child Protection:  In order to adequately protect Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens additional funding is necessary. Funding for child protection comes from federal, state and local dollars, at the present time the state of Minnesota contributes very few dollars compared to other states. This impacts local budgets and the capacity of the child protection delivery service.

  • 5% Campaign: In Minnesota, direct care professionals and caregivers make an average wage of $11.55 per hour. These workers provide complex care. As a result of the historically low wages there is a very high rate of turnover which ultimately reduces the quality of care to those receiving home and community based services.

  • TXT4LIFE: TXT4LIFE has been successfully piloted in the northern part of Minnesota and offers those struggling with an easy and accessible support system. Expansion throughout the state will help reduce the rate of suicide in Minnesota.

  • Local Public Health Grant: A strong and responsive local public health system is essential to the health and well-being of Minnesotans. The restoration of funds to the Local Public Health Grant is essential to continue a strong public health system in Minnesota. ~ Local 34 is an agency member of MSSA.


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