Can't Win if you Don't Fight

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)



It has been an honor and a privilege

Today marks my last day as editor of Workday Minnesota. It has been an honor to have done this work since this website was launched in August 2000. And it has been a privilege to provide a platform for workers to tell their stories.

Seventeen years ago, the Internet was much younger and unions were not making great use of the technology. The idea of a website that would focus on labor news seemed radical to some. But Workday happened because of the vision of Bernard Brommer, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO at the time, and the involvement of Howard Kling of the Labor Education Service.

As the editor of the Union Advocate, the newspaper of what was then called the St. Paul Trades & Labor Assembly, I was viewed as someone who could be trusted to take the reins of this new venture.

From the beginning, our goal was to provide a place for workers' voices to be heard. And that need still exists. Despite the avalanche of information available through the Internet, workers' stories are still scarce. So are news and resources that support worker rights.

In the ensuing years, drawing on the experienced Labor Education Service telecommunications staff, we added video as a frequent feature of our coverage. The Workday project expanded beyond a website to utilize Facebook and Twitter. We now cover not only union activities, but also the actions of organizations such as worker centers and any efforts -- like the campaign for a $15 minimum wage -- that advance better conditions for working people.

Through the years, I have met people from all walks of life and have learned that leadership comes in many forms. It can be the officer elected to head her union or the organizer who goes door to door talking to potential members. It can be the activist -- of any age -- who demonstrates in the streets. It can be the person who makes the phone calls or does the mundane tasks necessary to build a strong organization. It can be as complicated as a multi-pronged campaign and as simple as one worker talking to another.

The Workday Minnesota project has provided the opportunity for me to get to know many of you -- and hopefully support your efforts. Workday provides a window on your world, but it is you who create the message.

I owe a special thanks to the many labor communicators and other journalists, interns and freelance writers who have played a role over these many years in helping Workday succeed. It has been a joy to work with all of you.

The Labor Education Service is in the process of hiring a new editor, someone whom I know will take Workday to the next level. As for me, I will be moving into a different kind of job -- but one that still has ties to labor -- in administrative support at the Cummins & Cummins law firm. I am excited about this new opportunity. And despite the many challenges we face today, I remain hopeful. I guess it has something to do with the many amazing people I have had the privilege to meet.

As the late, great Paul Wellstone said, "The future will not belong to those who sit on the sidelines. The future will not belong to the cynics. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ~ Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota



Closed group: Email Amanda Abell for an invite



     AFSCME Local 34                                   Updated 12/14/2017



Here Come the Republican Benefit Cuts

By Kelly Ross

December 7, 2017

First, they run up the deficit with massive tax giveaways for millionaires and Wall Street; then they use the deficit as an excuse to cut benefits for working people.

This is what the Republican tax scam is all about. Anybody who’s been paying attention should have seen this coming a mile away. The only surprising thing is that they’re not even waiting for their tax bill to run up the deficit before they start demanding benefit cuts.

Last month, House Republican Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced, "Congress will turn next year to spending cuts to try to lower the deficit…that’s the second step after cutting taxes."

Yesterday Ryan said, "We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit." Just to be clear, by "entitlement reform," Ryan means cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Why would Ryan want to cut health benefits? Yesterday he claimed that, Kelly Ross

 December 7, 2017"Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt” and “that’s where the problem lies, fiscally speaking."

Well, gee, if you’re so concerned about the debt, maybe you shouldn’t be trying to ram through Congress a wasteful tax boondoggle that has an official price tag of nearly $1.5 trillion, but that will surely cost a lot more than that because it’s so chock full of budgeting gimmicks.

Other Republican leaders have joined the call for benefit cuts. Earlier this week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, "You’ve got to look at entitlements."

Last week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said, "You also have to bring spending under control….The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries."

One group of Republicans in the House – the Republican Study Committee – is pushing a set of proposals to cut $1 trillion from entitlement programs.

Last week, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was pointing to the deficit as an excuse for letting children’s health benefits expire. The Children's Health Insurance Program provides health care for 9 million children, and its funding lapsed two months ago. Hatch explained that "the reason CHIP’s having trouble is because we don’t have money anymore."

"We don’t have money anymore?" Again, if Republicans really thought this were true, why would they be wasting $1.5 trillion on tax giveaways for millionaires and Wall Street? Why would they be wasting $151 billion on estate tax cuts for the wealthiest 0.2% of heirs in the country?

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) explained why Republicans are so intent on giving tax breaks to the wealthiest heirs: "I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it's on booze, or women, or movies."

In other words, working-class people are good-for-nothings who waste all their money, while Paris Hilton is powering the economy forward with her investments in miniature dog palaces.

Last week, Hatch showed this same kind of contempt for working people. He said, "I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won't help themselves, won't lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything."

The Republican leadership seems to have a double standard when it comes to deficits. Deficits are no big deal when it comes to giving a $1.5 trillion Christmas present to their millionaire friends on Wall Street. Yet deficits are an urgent national emergency when it comes to things that matter to working people—like Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, education and infrastructure.

This double standard is at the core of the Republican tax scam that dings working people while rewarding people at the very top who don’t need any more tax breaks. The Republican plan is to give millionaires and Wall Street massive tax breaks and make the rest of us pay the price in the form of outsourced jobs, Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, education cuts, infrastructure cuts, higher taxes on middle-class families, higher health insurance premiums, more people without health insurance and more people dying because they lack health insurance.




Minnesota Senator appointed

Governor Mark Dayton appointed Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to serve as United States Senator for Minnesota. Smith will be appointed to serve a one-year term in the Senate, concluding in January 2019. Minnesotans will choose a U.S. Senator to serve the remainder of the term being vacated by Senator Al Franken in a Special Election, which will be held concurrently with the 2018 General Election on November 6, 2018. During her time as Lieutenant Governor, Tina Smith has focused on building an economy that works for all Minnesotans, and making state government work better for the people it serves. Tina helped expand paid parental leave for Minnesota workers, crack down on wage theft, combat the opioid crisis, and grow Minnesota’s clean energy economy. Tina also led efforts to enroll tens of thousands of children in high-quality early learning programs, expand access to high-speed internet in Greater Minnesota, and expand access to jobs and economic opportunity for all Minnesotans.

A win for a citywide minimum wage

MPR’s Jon Collins reports:  “A Hennepin County judge has denied a request by business groups to temporarily block Minneapolis' new minimum wage. The first phase of the city's eventual $15 an hour minimum wage will take effect Jan. 1, bringing some workers' wages up to $10 an hour. A lawsuit filed in November by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and others argued that the city's minimum wage ordinance should be blocked because it conflicts with state law and would affect communities outside the city of Minneapolis. In a decision released Monday, Judge Susan Burke denied the plaintiffs request to issue a temporary injunction, writing that they didn't prove that the ordinance was outside the city's authority or that the general population of the state would be harmed if it went forward.”

Transit workers rally

The Pioneer Press' Ryan Faircloth writes: “Around 70 unionized transit workers assembled at a Metropolitan Council transportation committee meeting in Minneapolis Monday to voice concerns over an ongoing contract dispute. … The demonstration coincided with a new round of contract negotiations in St. Paul between the Met Council and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1005 that extended into the early evening. … Unionized transit operators and support personnel rejected the Met Council’s contract offer in November, citing operator safety as a main concern.”

Best run state in the US

Pioneer press reports: A new study released this week by USA Today named Minnesota as the best-run state in the nation. All 50 states were ranked by “economic indicators, budget allocations, and balance sheets, in addition to a range of social measures to rank how well each state is run,” according to the article. The study, by 24/7 Wall St., named Minnesota as the 10th-best state in 2012, but its fiscal management the last five years has increased its ranking. Minnesota’s unemployment rate is the 13th-lowest in the country at 3.9 percent. According to a release regarding the study from Gov. Mark Dayton’s office, the state’s unemployment rates have remained under 4 percent for the past 40 months. Minnesota’s unemployment rate is the 13th-lowest in the country at 3.9 percent. According to a release regarding the study from Gov. Mark Dayton’s office, the state’s unemployment rates have remained under 4 percent for the past 40 months. The study also focused on Minnesota’s poverty rate — 9.9 percent — the sixth-lowest poverty rate in the U.S. Additionally, about 10 percent of the state’s annual budget has been saved, and 290,000 jobs have been added since 2011. “This Administration has worked hard to make state government work better for the people of Minnesota – and we are not done yet,” Dayton said in the news release. “Next session, I will urge the Legislature to work with me to protect the long-term fiscal stability of our state, which is essential for Minnesota’s future. Working together, I know we can deliver even better services, and better value, for the people of Minnesota.” A call seeking comment from the office of House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, was not immediately returned Monday.

Legislative harassment policy proposed

Driven by the recent resignations of two state legislators over sexual misconduct allegations, Rep. John Lesch and Rep. Marion O’Neill on Monday unveiled a plan to remake the Capitol’s sexual harassment reporting system.  .Under their proposal, a complaint made with specific factual evidence would automatically be referred to the House Ethics Committee. That panel, with equal members from both parties, would have to decide within 30 days if probable cause exists. If it doesn’t, nothing would become public. If there is a probable cause determination, a full-blown investigation that includes a public hearing would be held and a ruling would come within two months of that. Confidentiality would be provided and that complaints could come from anyone with a tie to the Capitol, including staff, lobbyists and visitors from the public.

State auditor race

The latest DFL candidate to join the 2018 race for Minnesota state auditor says she wants to be a resource for local government officials.   Julie Blaha, a former math teacher and the current secretary-treasurer of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, announced her candidacy over the weekend. She said she will seek the DFL party endorsement and abide by the result. Blaha said as state auditor she would highlight and support the work of cities, townships and counties. “Regular people need somebody to help them out while they’re doing great things,” Blaha said. I would love to be that person who can provide the information, the accountability to ensure that their solutions turn into reality.” So far, no Republican has announced a run for state auditor.






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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