President's Blog  


2016-18 Contract


As strike ends, Allina nurses say they’re stronger, more unified than ever

Union nurses at five Allina care centers in the Twin Cities lowered their picket signs at 7 p.m. tonight, marking the end of an historic, seven-day strike that energized and unified members of the Minnesota Nurses Association. At United Hospital in St. Paul, organizers expanded the picket line to accommodate an influx of supporters eager to see strikers to the finish. In the strike’s closing minutes, picketers huddled together and listened as nurses reflected on the strike and what lies ahead…Nurses’ picket lines saw an average attendance of about 2,000 people per day, according to the union. But Allina executives, including CEO Penny Wheeler, have remained unmoved, continuing to insist that nurses give up their high-quality, affordable health insurance as a starting point for negotiations. “They don’t know who we are,” United nurse Sarah Lake said. “They don’t know how strong we are. They don’t know how much solidarity we have. “I’ve never been prouder to be a nurse in my life.”


AFSCME sanitation worker goes viral

When the special friendship between a three-year-old girl and an AFSCME Local 699 sanitation worker in Bloomington, Illinois, went viral, the world got a lesson in kindness—not to mention the humanity of the working men and women we rely on to provide public services every day. Every Thursday morning for the past year, Delvar Dopson would drive his garbage truck down little Brooklyn Andracke’s street. Dopson would honk his horn and flash his headlights, and the toddler would smile and wave. “It was really cute,” Delvar says. “I would tell my wife about it every week.” One day in April after Brooklyn’s birthday, Dopson arrived to find Brooklyn and her mom waiting on the curb. Turns out the little girl wanted to share one of her birthday cupcakes with her friend. Read more


East Side Freedom Library celebrates second anniversary

This summer, the East Side Freedom Library is celebrating its second anniversary. Our roots lie in the vision that Dave Roe and Rudy Perpich had in the 1990s of a Labor History Center to tell the stories of the state’s workers and their labor movement, and our branches grow far and wide, reaching out to young people who have not yet entered the workforce and to workers new to our state and our country, new to the labor movement. Our mission is driven not only by our appreciation of the rich history of the labor movement and our sense that this history is all too rarely recognized in our culture; it is also driven by our awareness of the challenges faced by working people and the labor movement… The East Side Freedom Library draws on the rich history of the labor movement in order to incubate ideas, strategies, values and visions that can serve workers and the labor movement now. We are also educating the wider community to better understand how a strong labor movement and fairly compensated workers have been central to the past successes of our national economy and to the establishment of a high quality of life… It’s been a great two years working with the labor movement and working with our community on the East Side. Together, we can mine the past to find valuable insights and ideas with which to shape the future.


Freedom to marry

Winning the freedom to marry here in the United States brought happiness, security, and dignity to so many – more than a million gay people have married in the US; just multiply that by loved ones, families, friends, co-worker, kids, and other lives touched – and proved that the right combination of a movement, a strategy, a campaign, hard work, and persistence can transform hearts, minds, and, then the law. The inspiration and lessons from this epic triumph are in big demand for the causes and challenges that remain unfinished on so many fronts here in the US and around the world. As we celebrate the anniversary of the victory, we can relive this emotional story and enduring lessons through award-winning filmmaker Eddie Rosenstein’s new documentary – aptly titled The Freedom to Marry.” It’s a “War Room” style film full of exclusive behind-the-scenes portraits of the campaign, strategy, and battles that ended marriage discrimination nationwide.

The documentary shows our “ascent to the summit,” and reveals that so much of the actual “drama” is not just in how we finished the job at the end, but rather, how so many organizations and individuals built the movement, had the conversations, and fought the battles that transformed the hearts and minds of the nation – together. The Freedom to Marry is the gripping story of how gay people rose from a despised and oppressed minority to claim equality and the preeminent language of love. And it’s an invaluable playbook for other movements and causes seeking to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to make history. We know from the headlines – and there are plenty out there, including our movement’s own continuing challenges – that this playbook will be invaluable moving forward. 

When you reflect on what we accomplished together just one year ago today, know this: We did this together. Lots to celebrate, and lots more still to do. Happy Anniversary!



  AFSCME Local 34             Updated 6/27/2016

In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed - banning child labor and setting the 40-hour work week.




Child protection workers are ‘angels’

When you look at everything our child protection workers do in the course of a week, the math becomes a bit staggering. Theoretically, social workers in Hennepin County and across the state work 40 hours a week. But in reality, that number is often much higher.

An average week can include: 

  1. Performing a home visit for every family that’s part of a worker’s caseload, up to three times a month, lasting an hour each trip plus travel time.

  2. Attending anywhere from one to six court hearings a week, each requiring a few hours of waiting time and about four hours to complete a pre-hearing report.

  3. Driving children to supervised visits with their parents and monitoring them, roughly three hours per visit.

  4. Setting up doctor and dentist appointments, which can involve driving the children and waiting for them, too.

  5. Spending four hours a week referring families to services such as counseling or drug treatment.

  6. Spending 1-2 hours a week setting up chemical dependency assessments.

  7. Acting as the coordinator between agencies who helps children and families, including police, the courts and other social services.

Consider that workers in Hennepin County handle up to 18 cases each, and you have to multiply those numbers many times over. 

Even after working 60 hours, I wonder how I accomplished everything I did, but I still have a to-do list of 35 to 40 things,” says child protection social worker Sara Crotteau. “It’s like a constant cycle. You can’t be successful in this job if you can’t be OK with that. You’re never going to leave at the end of the day feeling like there’s nothing left to do.” 

Workers see kids and parents at their most vulnerable in the worst of circumstances. They see children who are left alone, who don’t have enough food, who have addicted parents, who are physically or sexually abused. 

Like many Minnesota counties, Hennepin is experiencing high turnover from rising numbers of abuse and neglect reports, overwhelmed workers and increased demand for more paperwork on top of it all.  

“We have workers who will never admit it, but they are online doing their documentation at 2 in the morning,” says AFSCME Local 34 president Jean Diederich. “We have workers who don’t have a life. They are losing their vacation time: They’re afraid if they take it, something will fall through the cracks. They’re so afraid of something bad happening to a kid on their watch. They live under that constant fear. 

“It takes such a special person,” Diederich says. “They’re all angels. They may not have wings we can see, but anyone who does this as a livelihood, they’re doing this to keep kids safe.”  Read more

Related Articles:

Rally to support child protection social workers

Spike in abuse reports overwhelms Hennepin County child protection system

Child protection staffing expands to 24/7 in Hennepin County



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!

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We advocate for excellence in public services, dignity in the workplace, and opportunity and prosperity for all workers.

Established in April 1950, AFSCME Local 34 represents over 2000 Social Service employees of Hennepin County. As a member, you become a supporter in our efforts to maintain and improve working conditions for everyone. AFSCME will keep fighting for an America that works for all people.  

AFSCME women make up close to 60% of the union’s membership.

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