Can't Win if you Don't Fight

“Union members know that freedom is not given, it’s fought for, and it must be protected.” ~Eliot Seide, AFSCME Council 5  

One Strong, United Voice for Workers

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

Newsletter  (August, 2017)

President's Blog  (August, 2017)



History Theatre chronicles push for civil rights legislation

October 7-29: Taking office as President in 1963 after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson would push — and some say, be pushed — to enact sweeping civil rights legislation. That’s the dramatic story in the regional premiere of “All the Way,” which will run Oct. 7-29 at History Theatre, 310 E. 10th St., St. Paul. Characters in the play — which won the 2014 Tony Award for best play — include Johnson, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Minnesota’s Hubert Humphrey and Roy Wilkins, among others. Ticket prices are $27-$52 for adults, $25-$47 for seniors, $15 for students. Group rates for 10 or mpore tickets are available. For more information, visit the History Theatre website or call 651-292-4323. Free for ticketed guests, post-show discussions will follow Sunday matinée performances. ~ Workday Minnesota

Need help with grocery bills?

October 20: Fare for All Express offers fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meats and staple items. Fare for All Express packages cost $10-$30. The program is open to everyone and has NO income requirements. Next delivery: Friday, October 20, 2017, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Sprinkler Fitters Local 417 Union Hall, 1404 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis. For more information contact Working Partnerships: 612-379-8130 ext. 112. 

Campus Labor Institute

October 21: A Campus Labor Institute offered Saturday, Oct. 21, will feature sessions on worker organizing, history and more. The event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. in the 3M Auditorium of the Carlson School of Management on the West Bank of the university’s Minneapolis campus. It will be followed by a social hour at a nearby café. Sponsors are the Young Democratic Socialists of the University of Minnesota and the Labor Education Service at the university. View a complete schedule on the Young Democratic Socialists’ Facebook page. “The Campus Labor Institute is a revival of a program active in the 1980s and ’90s that engaged college students, community members, labor organizers, and rank and file union members in connecting labor activism with broader social justice and progressive movements,” organizers said. “This one-day seminar will orient attendees around academic approaches to organized labor, organizing principles, and a history of labor struggle. The intended outcome is both to train scholars to engage with labor struggles and introduce young activists to labor as a destination for their organizing talents. “People with all levels of exposure to the labor movement are welcome to attend. This event will primarily focus on current students or recent graduates and those new to organizing.”

October 22: “The Democratic Party at a Crossroads: The Wellstone Way and Economic Populism” will be the theme of a symposium open to the public at the University of Minnesota Sunday, October 22. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren will be a featured speaker. The event will run from 12:30-5:00 p.m. at the Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2128 4th Street So., Minneapolis. This October brings the 15th anniversary of the death of U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, who showed how grassroots organizing and a focus on bread and butter issues could win elections. Today, however, the Democratic Party is at a crossroads as Republicans control the White House, both houses of Congress and two thirds of governorships and state legislatures. Senator Elizabeth Warren, writer Thomas Frank (What’s the Matter with Kansas?) and Harvard professor Theda Skocpol will be joined October 22 by a wide-ranging group of political analysts and on-the-ground activists to discuss the sources of the Democratic Party’s defeats and future directions. The event marks the 15th anniversary of Paul Wellstone’s death and it will focus on “the Wellstone Way,” economic populism, and grassroots organizing as a strategy for rebuilding the Democratic Party. The event sponsor is the U of M’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Advance registration is recommended. The registration fee is $10 for the general public and $5 for students. For more information, contact U of M Tickets and Events at 612-624-2345 or visit Tickets may be purchased online.

November 2: On Thursday, November 2 @ 7:00­­PM, Nancy MacLean, Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University, will discuss “The Origins of the Radical Right and the Crisis of Our Democracy.”  Nancy is the author of a new, controversial book, DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS, an explosive exposé of the little-known thinker behind the radical right’s relentless campaign to eliminate unions, suppress voting, privatize public education, stop action on climate change, and alter the Constitution: the Nobel Prize winning political economist James McGill Buchanan. It was Buchanan who taught billionaire Charles Koch that for capitalism to thrive, democracy must be enchained. Come hear MacLean share the story of how she found the trail of this collaboration in the archives as she explains its frightening endgame and import. Free and Open to All. East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street, Saint Paul, MN 55106.  


Closed group: Email Amanda Abell for an invite



     AFSCME Local 34                                     Updated 10/17/2017




Earlier this year, a handful of GOP lawmakers (backed by the Koch brothers) pushed through legislation that stripped Iowa state employees of their freedom to negotiate a fair return on their work.

On his recent visit to our annual convention, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 leader Danny Homan had this warning for AFSCME members in Minnesota:

“If you lose your next governor’s election, you will have this bill here in Minnesota. The only way we’re going to survive is if we lock arms and say, 'screw them.' We’re going to fight and we’re going to continue to support our union.” READ MORE


"Despite taking a 45% pay raise for themselves, Republican lawmakers denied a 2% cost-of-living raise for 30,000 hardworking Minnesota state employees."

There's a trade-off if state workers are denied pay raises

State employees have been made well aware during the political and economic roller-coaster ride of the last decade that pay raises aren’t a sure thing. Still, they must be stung by a joint legislative panel's rejection last week of two proposed new labor contracts bearing pay increases for the year that began on July 1 and the one that follows.

The proposed annual increases for the nearly 30,000 members of the two largest state employees’ unions, AFSCME and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), were 2 percent this year and 2.25 percent for the year beginning next July 1. Average annual pay would be $45,163 for AFSCME members and $66,941 for members of MAPE.

The increases compared with 3 percent average wage increases in the past year for private-sector workers in the Twin Cities, where the bulk of state employees work. All six Republicans on the 10-member panel voted to block the new contracts. All four DFL members voted to approve them. That vote doesn’t necessarily mean state workers won’t eventually see raises in this fiscal year. But it does mean that those raises will be delayed until at least late February, when the Legislature’s regular session resumes.

It also shows that in the current political environment, it doesn’t take a state budget deficit — or an election year — for state employees to feel a compensation squeeze. That squeeze could prove costly for taxpayers in the long run, if it makes attracting and retaining a skilled workforce more difficult in an increasingly tight labor market. Already, it’s taking more than three months to fill many state positions, positions, state officials report.

At least one Republican, state Rep. Steve Drazkowski of Mazeppa, told Minnesota Public Radio that he could not accept raises “at the expense of people who don’t work for government.” That’s an argument that could be leveled against any pay increase for government workers anytime, and it seems bound to set some talented state workers packing. A 2014 study by the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute found there’s already a wage-and-benefit tug in the private sector’s direction. Total compensation, wages plus benefits, for public workers in Minnesota then lagged 3 percent behind comparable private-sector workers.

The legislative panel’s chair, Rep. Marion O’Neill of Maple Lake, offered a more nuanced explanation for Republican “no” votes. The Dayton administration supplied too little evidence that the new contracts would be affordable within the confines of the state agency budgets the Legislature approved in May. Agency-by-agency information was lacking, she told an editorial writer. She also voiced concern that the contracts would lead to tuition increases or program cuts in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, where about 4,800 employees would be covered by the two new contracts.

Two Minnesota state representatives, one Republican and one Democrat, filed a lawsuit Thursday against the state House and Speaker Kurt Daudt over legislative pay. Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Maple Lake, and Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, are challenging Daudt’s decision not to implement the pay raise that was set by a constitutionally mandated salary panel. The Legislative Salary Council increased lawmakers’ annual salary from $31,140 to $45,000. READ MORE (7/20/2017)

 “While I personally object to the establishment of the Legislative Salary Council, Minnesota voters supported the approach,” Daudt said. “In light of recent court rulings and with the advice of counsel, it has become increasingly clear that the Minnesota House is constitutionally required to pay legislators the prescribed amount. We intend to move forward by instituting the salary set by the Council.” His move came a day after two lawmakers, one a Republican and one a Democrat, filed a lawsuit to try to force him to take the raise. Daudt said rather than go to court, he would use money from House reserves to pay the higher salaries. (7/21/2017)

O’Neill’s attention to maintaining state fiscal balance is well-placed. But if a wage freeze is the consequence, it will have consequences that Minnesotans shouldn’t ignore. A 2016 report by the state demographer warns that the state workforce is older on average than the private sector’s, and that the coming years will witness “a dramatic wave of retirements.”

State Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans said that the contract cost projections supplied to legislators are more detailed than in any previous year. They put the total cost of the two proposed contracts at $137 million, below a budgeted $170 million. Of necessity, those are estimates, Frans said.

In a letter to Republican members of the Subcommittee on Employee Relations, Frans said the proposed contracts were negotiated “with the understating that agencies can manage their contract costs within their existing appropriation, absent unexpected circumstances.” He told an editorial writer: “These are really good contracts — some of the best we’ve ever negotiated.”

If that’s so, it should be possible in coming weeks to persuade fair-minded members of the GOP legislative majority of that fact. The parties to these contracts should keep working toward a response other than a flat “no” to state workers’ reasonable expectation of pay raises during healthy economic times.

O’Neill signaled that she is open to persuasion. “I would never say we are against raises for workers,” she said. The new contracts’ affordability is “our entire concern.” Minnesotans should let GOP legislators know that while they too care about costs, they also understand that maintaining high-quality state services requires competitive compensation for state workers. ~ Star Tribune, Editorial board

SER Rejects State Employee Contracts


Since 1979, the top 1 percent has seen wage growth of 137 percent―and the top 0.1 percent twice as fast. In contrast, the wages of the bottom 90 percent grew just 21 percent, and most of that was in the late 1990s.

The Legislature’s Subcommittee on Employee Relations (SER) recommended Thursday that the Minnesota Legislature reject state worker contracts. The 6-4 vote was along strict party lines, with Republicans voting to reject the two-year contract. It would have covered nearly 30,000 state workers represented by AFSCME Council 5 and MAPE. "State employees negotiated a fair return on their work," says Eliot Seide, executive director of AFSCME Council 5, the union that represents 15,504 workers harmed by the decision. "Under this new contract, we should receive a 2 percent raise this year and 2.25 percent next year. Our wages and benefits are in line with the private sector. It's a fair deal for state workers and Minnesota taxpayers." "We're tired of being pawns in a political game where Republicans think they can score points by beating up on hardworking people,” Seide says. “They reject our contracts while they approve massive tax breaks for corporations and their wealthy cronies.  Shame on them." ~ READ MORE

AFSCME Organizing Days

 AFSCME has made a commitment to getting back to organizing basics, building power at the grassroots level and hearing the unique concerns of every public service worker in one-on-one conversations. As a union, we will never quit fighting for the respect and opportunity public service workers deserve, because public service workers never quit on our communities.

Who: All are welcome! Anyone who wants to learn more about or get a feel for union organizing or get more involved in our union.

When: Next event is November 15th, 9:00-4:00, South Minneapolis Hub, Room 122. 

How: Let Deb Konechne know. Ask for the day off, take Special Leave Without Pay (SLWOP) and our union pays your day’s wages.  

Local 34 will continue our efforts to develop Member Action Teams (MAT) during 2017. The structure is aimed at fostering communication, networking and organizing for our members. Our goal is to have 80 MAT leaders by the end of 2017. Contact Deb Konechne, Local 34 Membership Secretary for more information and to express your interest in becoming a MAT leader. Contact Deb at or or call her at 612-816-4321.  




John Herzog - WEB Developer

AFSCME Local 34, P.O. Box 15222, Commerce Station, Mpls., Mn. 55415 was first created on 4/29/2001. 

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