"True freedom is education, and voting is true citizenship. We must pick up the challenge that our ancestors have handed to us. Voting must become synonymous with citizenship, and educating our children about their history, must become synonymous with freedom." ~ Dr. Josie Johnson (Minnesota Civil Rights Leader) "

In less than 30 days, Minnesotans can start voting. This year, Minnesotans will go to the polls to elect a U.S. Senator, Governor, U.S. and Minnesota House Representatives, as well as State, County and Local officers.

As we get closer to the 2014 elections, a lot of things are on our minds. Even though we're working harder and harder every year, our incomes have not kept up with the cost of living. We worry about setting aside enough for a secure retirement, health expenses and our children's educations. We need to elect leaders who care about working people and side with us, not just the wealthy and corporations.

This month marks the 49th anniversary of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, a law signed by Pres. Lyndon Johnson that was intended to enforce the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees all citizens the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” But that law has been undermined during the last several years by extremist governors, right-wing legislatures and the U.S. Supreme Court, making the promise of the Voting Rights Act just that – a promise without sufficient legal guarantees.

If your boss tramples on your right to organize in the workplace, Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) believes you should be able to sue for damages in federal court. He introduced a bill in Congress that would grant you that very right.  "Union busters are on the march and are aggressive," Ellison, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I think the [legal] options that are offered by the current process are not adequate." As he explained it, Ellison's plan would amend the National Labor Relations Act to make labor organizing something akin to a federal civil right.

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AFSCME Local 34, P.O. Box 15222, Commerce Station, Mpls., Mn. 55415

AFSCME Local 34                      Updated 8/21/2014


Job Development Career Fair! 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, August 25, 2014, Minneapolis Central Library. Employers include: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Doherty Staffing Solutions, Double Tree Hotel by Hilton, Dungarvin, Fed Ex Freight, Fed Ex Ground, Hennepin County, Hilton Hotel Minneapolis, HMS Host, Legendary Bakery, Lorenz Bus Service, Lyman Companies, Mainline Transportation, Menards, St. Paul Midway, Millennium Hotel Minneapolis, Northern Metal Recycling, Park Adams Transportation, Super America and Walgreens.

Labor 2014 Retiree Day of Action! With special guest speaker Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. Thursday September 4, 2014, 2:00 PM, Room 218, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, 312 Central Avenue, Minneapolis.

NorthPoint Health & Wellness Fitness Event! On Saturday, September 13, 2014, NorthPoint will host its third annual Fit-4-Fun Event. Last year, close to 1,000 community members participated in this event. This on site event starts at 10 am and will include a family oriented 1 or 3 mile walk or run as well as a bike ride through the Northside neighborhoods. In addition, participants will be able to try aerobic exercises, line dancing, and other activities. Attendees will also make their way through an obstacle course. There will be music, prizes, and healthy food options to try. NorthPoint will be distributing health and wellness information and most importantly, providing a setting where everyone can have fun. NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center has made a strategic decision and priority to engage our community to make better informed decisions concerning their health and wellness and encourage them to simply "get up and move." We look forward to your participation!

Visit AFSCME at the State Fair! Want a state that commits to transportation we can count on – a network that protects our jobs and provides opportunity and mobility for more residents? Then visit the AFSCME kiosk at the State Fair. More than 100 Council 5 members and retirees are volunteering to collect post cards that urge legislators to do what it takes to make transportation work better for everyone. The Fair runs from Thursday August 21 until Labor Day (September 1). While you’re there check out the Labor Pavilion’s entire line-up of unions, education, and music. ~ AFSCME Council 5

Local 34 Changing of the Guard! September has always felt like the beginning of a new year to me. I think it is because that is when school starts and summer is coming to an end. As I write my column, it is only the middle of August and all ready the days are getting noticeably shorter. So this is the beginning of a new year for me. This will be the last September that I am an employee of Hennepin County and the last September as one of Local 34’s Vice Presidents. I am retiring May 31, 2015. Nominations for Vice President will open I believe in February with the election being held in April. I have very much enjoyed the support I have had from our members to do this work. It is rarely easy but often fulfilling. I would like to take the next months to talk with people who think that they might want to be one of Local 34’s Vice Presidents. Please contact me if you would like my perspective on the work ahead. ~ Vicki Moore, AFSCME Local 34 Vice-President

How America’s Largest Worker Owned Co-Op Lifts People Out of Poverty! Before Zaida Ramos joined Cooperative Home Care Associates, she was raising her daughter on public assistance, shuttling between dead-end office jobs, and not making ends meet. “I earned in a week what my family spent in a day,” she recalled. After 17 years as a home health aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), the largest worker-owned co-op in the United States, Ramos recently celebrated her daughter’s college graduation. She’s paying half of her son’s tuition at a Catholic school, and she’s a worker-owner in a business where she enjoys flexible hours, steady earnings, health and dental insurance, plus an annual share in the profits. She’s not rich, she says, “but I’m financially independent. I belong to a union, and I have a chance to make a difference.” Read more

Home Health Care Union Vote Survives Court Challenge! Minnesota home health care workers seeking union representation survived a court challenge from opponents and are looking forward to ballots being counted Aug. 26.On Wednesday (Aug. 20), U.S. District Judge Michael Davis refused a request by the National Right to Work Foundation that he issue an injunction to halt the vote, which is taking place by U.S. mail. In a ruling, Davis called the request “premature,” clearing the way for ballots to be counted Aug. 26 in what will be the largest union election in Minnesota history. The Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services mailed ballots Aug. 1 to 26,000 eligible voters. They are defined as "personal care assistants and other home care workers providing direct support services through client-directed Medicaid programs including PCA Choice, Consumer Directed Community Supports (CDCS), and Consumer Support Grants." If a majority of those voting choose to unionize, they will be represented by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, which currently is the union for more than 15,000 healthcare workers in hospitals, clinics and nursing homes throughout Minnesota. It is part of the Service Employees International Union, which has 1.2 million members in the health care industry nationwide. Read more

Republican Leadership?

"The world is run by those who show up to vote!

Mitch McConnell: Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) just laid out the GOP strategy if it takes over the Senate. In short: if you think conservative obstruction is grinding Congress to a halt right now, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Mitch McConnell has a game plan to confront President Barack Obama with a stark choice next year: Accept bills reining in the administration’s policies or veto them and risk a government shutdown. In an extensive interview, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress. In short, it’s a recipe for a confrontational end to the Obama presidency. “We’re going to pass spending bills, and they’re going to have a lot of restrictions on the activities of the bureaucracy,” McConnell said in an interview aboard his campaign bus traveling through Western Kentucky coal country. “That’s something he won’t like, but that will be done. I guarantee it.” Mitch McConnell is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

John Boehner: If Republican John Boehner is so worried about the president’s executive orders, why didn’t he sue George W. Bush? What a hoot to see House Speaker John Boehner up on his hind legs, braying like a goofy mule as he declares that by golly he’s filing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for “aggressive unilateralism.” Or, was it unilateral aggressivism? Whatever. The Ohio Republican says it’s an outrage that a president would issue executive orders to set policy without the approval of Congress — at least on things that Boehner doesn’t approve of...Nonetheless, Boehner is suing Obama for his “effort to erode the power of the legislative branch.” Let’s check the numbers. So far, Obama’s White House has issued 183 presidential orders. Yet George W. Bush was far more outrageous, using this power 291 times. Did Boehner try to sue George W. for aggressive unilateralism? And what about Ronald Reagan’s 381 executive orders, Richard Nixon’s 346, Dwight Eisenhower’s 484, Herbert Hoover’s 968, and Teddy Roosevelt’s 1,081? John Boehner is running for re-election to the U.S. House pof Representatives.

Governor Rick Perry: A grand jury indicted Texas Governor Rick Perry on Friday for allegedly abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption — making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state’s first indicted governor in nearly a century. A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit run by the office of Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg was convicted of drunken driving, but refused Perry’s calls to resign...The unit Lehmberg oversees is the same that led the investigation against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican who in 2010 was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering for taking part in a scheme to influence elections in his home state. Governor Rick Perry wants to be President.  

Jeff Johnson: A day after Jeff Johnson won the Minnesota GOP gubernatorial primary, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) came out swinging. You see, during a speech to the Southwest Metro Tea Party earlier this year, Johnson vowed to "go all Scott Walker on Minnesota" if he's elected. And AFSCME doesn't much care for what Scott Walker has done in Wisconsin. After winning a four-way race to become the Republican nominee for Minnesota’s governor’s mansion, Jeff Johnson–a former attorney for the agri-giant Cargill–told reporters that he would slow the growth in the state’s minimum wage if elected.“The minimum wage should not be what anybody aspires to, they should aspire to a career,” he said. “They should aspire to a job that allows them to raise a family. The minimum wage won’t do that.” About 325 thousand workers stand to benefit from the minimum wage increases. The increase will especially benefit women and people of color, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers in Minnesota. Jeff Johnson is running for Governor of Minnesota.

Stewart Mills III: Residents of the 8th Congressional District stood outside the shuttered Georgia Pacific plant in Duluth, to hold Stewart Mills III accountable for his comments that he finds it "personally offensive" for multi-millionaires like himself to pay their fair share. The event kicked off the "Personally Offensive Tour," where everyday Minnesotans will share what they find "offensive" about multi-millionaire Mills running for Congress while opposing policies that would help strengthen and protect middle-class families. Stewart Mills III is running for Congress in the 8th Congressional District in Minnesota.

Mike McFadden: Iron Range leaders sounded off on investment banker Mike McFadden's pro-Chinese steel stance to make sure Minnesotans know that, if elected, McFadden would continue to put the interests of corporate shareholders over working families. McFadden's preference to build the entire Keystone XL pipeline out of Chinese Steel, if it were cheaper than American steel, would undercut an American industry that supports thousands of jobs in Minnesota.  Before becoming a politician, Mike McFadden was chief executive of Lazard Middle Market – a company that advised bankrupt businesses that laid off workers, while Lazard pocketed huge sums of money. McFadden’s company was involved in a deal where a Duluth NewPage paper mill laid off workers – while McFadden’s company pocketed an $11 million bonus from the deal. His company was also involved in a deal that outsourced jobs from Cannon Falls to Mexico for a kids clothing company. Mike McFadden also supports raising the Medicare eligibility age. In an interview, McFadden repeatedly dodged questions until finally stating he believes raising the eligibility age will preserve the Medicare program. This position is largely criticized by both parties for impacting low to middle income seniors and not increasing the life of the program. Mike McFadden is running for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota.

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