What Unions Do!

We’re preaching to the choir, aren’t we? But sometimes it helps to remind ourselves what unions and the labor movement have achieved through the years - weekends are just one obvious gain our predecessors brought. Wages are higher, benefits are greater, there is a larger middle class, there is more safety in the workplace, there is a process to grieve discipline, and workers have a voice at the negotiating table.

Unions are about a simple proposition: By joining together, working women and men gain strength in numbers so they can have a voice at work about what they care about. They negotiate a contract with their employer for things like a fair and safe workplace, better wages, a secure retirement and family-friendly policies such as paid sick leave and scheduling hours. They have a voice in how their jobs get done, creating a more stable, productive workforce that provides better services and products. Always adapting to the challenges of our nation’s evolving workforce, unions are meeting the needs of workers in today’s flexible and nontraditional work environments. Because no matter what type of job workers are in, by building power in unions, they can speak out for fairness for all working people in their communities and create better standards and a strong middle class across the country.

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, P.O. Box 15222, Commerce Station, Mpls., Mn. 55415

AFSCME Local 34                   Updated 3/2/2015

April Newsletter is now posted on the Local 34 website.


“The state can't give you freedom, and the state can't take it away. You're born with it, like your eyes, like your ears. Freedom is something you assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to which you resist is the degree to which you are free...” ~ Utah Phillips

Education, Engagement and Outreach Committee!

We wish to remind and invite everyone to the upcoming EE&O meeting which is this coming Monday evening March 30 from 5:30-7:00 in Room 111 of the Health Services Building which is located at 525 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis.

What a great turn out at the Labor Lunch! Thanks to all who were able to attend. The Auditorium was filled with people who care about their Union and their careers and being able to deliver the best possible services to the residents of Hennepin County and shared in serious discussion about how this is impacted by wage theft. The impact of wage theft is very damaging and the information that was shared is powerful testimony that this issue needs to be addressed.

This meeting is a follow up to the Labor Lunch that was recently held regarding Wage Theft. We will be reviewing information members have shared about wage theft and how they are impacted. As was discussed at the labor Lunch the data collected is very important. Be sure to continue to fill out the time sheets and encourage your so-workers to fill out the time sheets. When completed please refer to the information on the back side of the time sheet on how or where you can submit your time sheet. Again, this data is important in helping all of us and united together we can make a difference.

Have a great day and we hope you can attend the meeting on Monday March 30. ~ The Education, Engagement and Outreach Committee (EE&O) of all six Hennepin County AFSCME Locals.


Contract negotiations update!


Local 34 members created a “wish list” of issues they would like to see addressed in Negotiations this year. They range from wages to benefits to specific contract language suggestions. One issue has already been dealt with by the County Board - which approved a paid parental leave plan, beginning May 1. All who participated in the GA meeting process to develop these proposals are invited to participate in the Master Committee, which will hold its first meeting on Monday, April 6th. Please join us in the Government Center Auditorium from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. You must be a full dues paying member to participate and have your voice heard.


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

Keeping the dream alive - volunteers welcome!  

March 24th marked the kick- off day to 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. 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 Mem-phis 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.

Local 34 has scheduled two volunteer events as our part in the month of service. Please con-tact Kay Powell or me, 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 events.

  • The first event is at Bridging-Roseville, 1633 Terrace Drive, Roseville MN on Saturday, April 18, 2015 from 9:00 – Noon. We are looking for 10 – 15 volunteers. We will be providing general warehouse assistance: loading and unloading trucks, sorting through donated goods, rolling linens and re-stocking shelves. Note: All volunteers must be 14 or older. Check the Local 34 April Newsletter for additional information.

  • The second 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.

Workday Break - It’s your Right - you Deserve it!  

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.  

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)

County to offer paid parental leave!  

The Hennepin County Board approved a policy to offer paid parental leave to new parents. The county policy will be implemented May 1, 2015 and provides up to three weeks (120 hours) of 100 percent paid parental leave to eligible parents following the birth or adoption of a child. The policy will be used as a tool to attract and retain employees and give parents additional flexibility and time to bond with their new children, adjust to their new family situations, and balance their professional obligations.

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, 12 percent of workers in the United States had access to paid family leave through their employers in 2014. Over the past several years, Hennepin County has experienced an increased number of retirements. Analysis of the new hire demographic data shows 65 percent of all newly hired employees fall between the ages of 20 and 39. 

Additional information regarding policy details, eligibility, application process, and FAQs can be found on the paid parental leave web page. Questions?  Contact Human Resources Leave and Accommodation Management (LAM) Office: Email:  HR.LAM.Office@hennepin.us Phone: 612-348-4082. 

Local 34 2015 election results! 


The following individuals were elected by uncontested ballot:

  • Vice President: Laura Ross                              

  • Recording Secretary: Miguel Salazar

  • Membership Secretary:  Deb Konechne

  • Chief Steward: Kela Williams

  • Mpls. Regional Labor Federation Delegates: Patrick Regan, Grace Baltich, Kay Powell

  • Mpls. Regional Labor Federation Alternates: Maggie Keating

  • St Paul RLF Delegates: Kathy Kelly, Tony Parish, Deb Konechne, Tywanna Gray           

  • Trustee: Greg Bill  

Contested race: 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 any contested races will be done by mail-in ballot in the following manner: Beginning Monday, March 30th 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. All offices will be voted on by the general membership. Members will have until Monday, April 27th to return their marked ballot. Any ballots postmarked after April 27th will not be counted.


Local 34 Vice President steps down!


"And so this is it. It has been an honor and a privilege to be the Local 34 Vice President. I hope that I was always able to bring your issues forward and give voice to concerns that seemed to have fallen through the cracks so to speak. I have always been amazed by how interconnected our work is and how often several details of the interconnectedness get over-looked. Sometimes I wonder when the powers that be are planning change if they ask themselves, “If this, then that?” And that’s the View for the Cheap Seats for this month. For me this is a sign-off and as one of my favorite characters would say, “Exit Stage Left.” Thank you, Vicki Moore, Local 34 Vice President Note: Laura Ross is the Local 34 Vice President Elect.


New Local 34 staff representative! 


Matt Nelson has served as the staff representative to Local 34 for the past 15 years. Prior to that time, Matt was a Hennepin County Financial Worker and Chief Steward for Local 34. A new staff representative for our local is yet to be appointed. We wish to convey our deepest thanks and appreciation to brother Matt for all his years of service to the members of Local 34. He will truly be missed! We wish him well in his new assignment. Matt's last meeting with Local 34 will be the May 6 General Membership meeting...stop by to wish him well! 


Matt Nelson, who has been Local 34’s Business Representative for about 15 years, when he re-placed Rita During at AFSCME Council 5, is leaving us, as of April 1. His new assignment will be to get Regions Hospital through its difficult series of negotiations this year. As of this writing, Matt’s replacement has not been announced. Matt started here in Hennepin County in the mid-70s, as an Eligibility Technician (later called Financial Worker and now HSR). He was Chief Steward of Local 34 - in fact, he recruited President Jean Diederich into being a Local 34 activist in her first year on the job. He next joined the then-AFSCME Council 14, as a Business Agent, and was later assigned to Local 34 in 2000, completing his circle of AFSCME leadership! His steady guidance for the Local has been appreciated, and will be missed.

Other Local 34 News!

  • After meeting with Bill Peters of Labor Relations, the Department Directors are confirmed as Appointing Authority for Grievances (Article 28, Section 3 of the Local 34 contract) - when we grieve Performance Evaluation issues.

  • The Health Care Labor-Management Committee reports that our reserve fund in the health care account continues strong at $40 million. Our trends in Hennepin County show that we are facing just a 2-3% increase in claims while other jurisdictions have been averaging 8%.

  • New stewards George Mokamba (South Suburban Hub) and Bethlehem Beyene (Century Plaza ) were elected.

  • Elected to attend the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix, AZ in July were Kenneth W. Garnier and Tywanna Gray.

  • Elected to represent the Local at the March 26 Nellie Stone Johnson Dinner were Laura Ross, Kathy Kelly, Kenneth W. Garnier, Tywanna Gray, Sharon Streeter, Leah Hicks, Deb Konechne and Jean Diederich.

Labor events! 

Labor Movie Night “Wisconsin Rising” - April 16th, 6:00 p.m., United Labor Centre, 312 Central Avenue S.E., Mpls., Room 356 or 467.  Wisconsin Rising documents the largest sustained workers' resistance movement in American history, telling the dramatic story of how the people of Wisconsin occupied the State House and the streets when Republican Governor Scott Walker introduced legislation that stripped state employees of their right to collectively bargain in the workplace, undoing eight decades of basic workers' rights. 

Labor Happy Hour presents “Union Busting in Wisconsin”. May 14th, 5:00 p.m., Crowne Plaza Hotel, Minneapolis. Speaker: Wisconsin AFSCME member Angela Morrow.

AFSCME Family Picnic: August 16th, Maplewood (Battle Creek Regional Park).


Council 5 Executive Board opens nominations!  

AFSCME Council 5’s Executive Board is accepting nominations for the following vacancy: West Metro District 6: Nominees must live in Anoka, Carver, Hennepin, Scott, or Wright County (or work in one of the counties if they do not live in Minnesota). Friday April 10 is the deadline to submit nominations for District 6 vacancies. Submit names to: AFSCME Council 5 Elections Committee, c/o Michelle Stein, 300 Hardman Ave. S, South St. Paul, MN 55075. The term for all the seats runs through fall 2016.

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