President's Blog  


2016-18 Contract


Overtime Rule Will Give Millions an Overdue Raise


“Americans have spent too long working long hours and getting less in return. So wherever and whenever I can make sure that our economy rewards hard work and responsibility, that's what I'm going to do. Every hardworking American deserves a paycheck that lets them support their families, gain a little economic security, and pass down some opportunity to their kids. That's always worth fighting for.” ~ President Barack Obama  

Thanks to a new rule issued this week by the Obama administration, roughly 12.5 million working Americans are very close to receiving a long overdue and much deserved raise. The administration’s overtime rule, which becomes effective December 1, more than doubles the existing overtime salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476. That means white collar, salaried employees who earn less than $47,476 annually will now be eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week. The salary threshold will be adjusted every three years. The rule represents one of the most sweeping steps taken by the administration to address income inequality in an economy that is out of balance and favors a wealthy few.

“The administration’s overtime rule will help to reverse this imbalance by helping to ensure that working people get paid for the work they already do,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders in a statement. Raising the overtime threshold, Saunders said, “will not only help to restore the 40-hour work week, but also improve incomes and grow the middle class.” As President Obama explains in a message on, the rule is expected to put $12 billion more in the pockets of hardworking people during the next 10 years…

Immediately after the overtime rule was released, right-wing members of Congress announced preparations to block the rule. AFSCME will vigorously oppose any attempts to overturn this economic boost for working families.


Local 34 Organizing and Training Days

We still have organizing and training days that our union local members may participate in.  So far, we have held four organizing/training days and have gained great information and talked to hundreds of our coworkers and members. You may participate in one, or as many as you wish. Please RSVP for date that works for you. Remember, you will be paid your days wages by the union for participating. 

Here is the schedule for upcoming organizing days - please let me know which of these you would be interested/able to attend: 

  • June 9th – Augsburg Library in Richfield

  • June 21st- HSB (tentative location)

Even though the Freiderich’s Decision at the Supreme Court did not pass recently due to a tie vote, the wealthy special interests have multiple other cases in lower courts, making their way to the Supreme Court, that could destroy our unions.  Also these same wealthy people and corporations continue to turn state after state into Wisconsin-style, “right to work” (for less) states one by one.  We need to build our strength to withstand these attacks on public sector workers and unions such as ours. 

Please consider attending one our Local 34 AFSCME organizing and training days and passing the info to your teams and fellow coworkers. You will get paid your day’s wages by the union as “Lost Time” and as a union member you have the right to take time for union activities. You merely notify or request from your supervisor in advance (if you typically do that) that you will be taking the day off (much like a vacation day).  

Lunch is provided and parking/mileage costs are also covered. I will send you details on how to get wages and parking paid once you RSVP that you will attend a date. RSVP is also important so we have lunch and materials to accommodate all.  

Many of you may have heard that as workers - especially those of us in the public sector - we are under attack. The attacks are coming from wealthy special interests and corporate interests that are deliberately trying to dismantle unions in our country. Cases are in waiting to be brought to the US Supreme Court that would jeopardize our ability to exercise our rights at work. These are deliberate attacks on public sector unions because our unions get us much better wages and benefits than non-union jobs. Much of our focus in the next months will be to connect with our coworkers and educate each other on what we are up against as workers and how we can defend our rights and strengthen our unions. 

Thank you so much for all you do to defend our union and serve our communities! 

In solidarity, Deb Konechne, Membership Secretary, Local 34




   AFSCME Local 34                  Updated 5/30/2016


New Local 34 Executive Board Member: We have a new Member-at-Large, Christina Eichorn. She was elected by our Local 34 Executive Board this evening, 5/18/16.  Christina’s term will run May 2016 through April 2017.

New Newsletter Editor: We have a new Newsletter Editor who was selected by our Local 34 Executive Board on 5/18/2016. Ali Marzolf will begin her duties with the May 2016 newsletter.  If you have any ideas or suggestions for what you would like to see in the newsletter, please send them to her at

Legislature Approves AFSCME State Employee Contracts: AFSCME state employee contracts were approved by lawmakers before the Legislature adjourned late last night. The best news is that the contract bills are “clean” of the poison pills that House Republicans had tried to pass. Governor Dayton is expected to sign the three contract bills that cover nearly 18,000 workers in the corrections, radio communications and multi-units. We are grateful to Governor Dayton, Senator Jim Metzen, and Representatives Leon Lillie and Debra Hilstrom for their persistent support of all state employees and our labor agreements. There were however 25 Republican legislators who voted against the contract bills. If they were in charge state employees would have no rights and no raises. The purpose of our contract is to promote harmonious relations between labor and management; to establish an equitable and peaceful procedure to resolve differences; and for both parties to express full and complete understanding of rates of pay, hours of work, and other conditions of employment. Collective bargaining has worked well for 42 years since passage of the Public Employment Labor Relations Act. ~ AFSCME Council 5  

In fight with Allina over health insurance, nurses not backing down: In contract negotiations with Allina, union nurses are standing together to defend their health insurance. And outside the health care provider’s Minneapolis headquarters, the community showed it’s standing with nurses. Informational picketing of Allina Commons drew hundreds of nurses, who arrived in busloads from five metro-area Allina facilities. Supporters from the community, including members of several other unions, also walked the picket line in solidarity. Read more from the Union Advocate.

Memorial Day: Minnesota Workers Mural Dedication: A newly-installed mural at the Workers Memorial Garden located on the State Capitol grounds will be dedicated on Memorial Day. The mural is the work of Twin Cities artist Craig David, who also created the murals on the exterior wall of Target Field in Minneapolis. Former Vice President Walter Mondale will be among the featured speakers and the Twin Cities Labor Chorus will perform. The public is welcome to attend. Learn more.

AFSCME Strong: Minnesota state patrol vehicle inspector Jim Ullmer Jr. had been building strength in his union through member-to-member engagement long before the idea became the foundation for our AFSCME Strong program, which launched early last year to build a stronger union nationwide through one-on-one conversations with fellow workers. “Our mission throughout the year is to visit every single member at their workplace to make sure they know we’re there,” says Ullmer, a member of the executive board of Department of Public Safety Local 3142 (AFSCME Council 5). In fact, he and Catherine Claude, the local’s treasurer, travel throughout the state each year to meet face-to-face with the nearly 700 members of the unit, who work in every county in the state. “We’ve done that every year for probably the last 10 to 15 years,” Ullmer says. He’s been working for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for 32 years, and has always been an active member of his union. Recently, he and Claude traveled 1,009 miles – from Worthington to Thief River Falls – to talk with workers about issues that matter to them in their workplaces. Ullmer acknowledged that it’s hard on them and their families to be on the road so often. “You adjust, you adapt, but we get it done,” he says. “Sometimes, I don’t know how, but we do.”

A Good Friend of our Union: In 1979, Herb Brooks led the University of Minnesota to a third college hockey title. The Village People had a hit with “Y.M.C.A.” And Randy Johnson joined the Hennepin County Board. On Tuesday, Johnson, 69, said he won’t run for re-election this fall, opting to step down when his term ends in January after 38 years — making him the longest-serving commissioner since Hennepin County was founded in 1852. The timing was unusual, given that Johnson had sent out a news release last week announcing his intention to run for another term. He said Tuesday that his change of heart was the result of some deep conversations with his wife over the weekend. “My wife and I had some long talks,” Johnson said. “We both are fortunately very healthy. We like to travel. We really like to spend time with the grandchildren in Vancouver, B.C. It’s tough to be gone from here for more than 10 days at a time. “She has expressed a strong preference that I retire and we do these things while we’re still able to do them.”…First elected to the board as a Republican, Johnson in recent years ran for re-election without the endorsement of either major party. He served several terms as board chair between 1997 and 2008. Mpls. Star Tribune  

HealthWorks has partnered with RedBrick Health to provide you with new ways to get healthy. The new RedBrick Health portal will provide: We are still offering HealthWorks programs you are familiar with, including wellness classes, health coaching, flu shots, health screenings and more. 

  • One place to complete your health assessment, participate in online activities, and see your progress towards the health incentive.

  • The ability to take your health assessment at any time in the year.

  • More engaging and interactive online Journeys instead of static webinars.

  • The ability to sync your activity tracker to online challenges.

  • Access to online health and wellness tracking tools.

  • The ability to earn incentive credit for getting your health screenings done at your doctor's office.     

Local 34 Officer Election  Results: Our new Treasurer will be Paul Madison. Our new Members-at-Large will be Brittany Bullock, Brenda Louise and Kay Powell. They took their oath of office at the May 4, 2016 General Assembly along with the other officers and stewards who begin their terms of office this month. Please join us in thanking Angel Alexander for putting her name forward for the Treasurer  position and Christina Eichorn for putting her name forward for the Member-at-Large  position. We are very fortunate to have members who care enough about their fellow members to run for office. Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.

PEPSA: Our union fights hard to make sure we will have a healthy pension when we retire but this is an ongoing and constant battle.  PEPSA, Public Employee Pension Services Association, is another organization that stays on top of anything that affects our pension, keeping an eye out for any proposed changes to our pension and advocating on our behalf to make sure it is there when we retire. Like any organization, they need funding for their work.  If you are not a member already, please consider joining.  Your annual dues can be withheld from your paycheck.  

Scholarship Deadline Nears: The Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship is open to minority students from union families attending a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities school. Learn more on the Nellie Stone Johnson website or by calling 866-738-5238. The deadline is June 1.

Acting Chief Steward: Please note that Mara Ssengendo has been appointed to serve as our Acting Junior Chief Steward as of May 1, 2016. She is stepping into the position while our current Junior Chief Steward, Tywanna Gray, takes an Acting Position as Supervisor for the next six months. Mara will perform all the duties of the office and will work with our Senior Chief Steward, Kela Williams. Any questions that you would have directed to Tywanna and Kela should now be directed to Mara and Kela. They will work together on steward assignments as needed for grievances. Please join us in thanking Mara for stepping in while Tywanna is in her acting assignment. And join us in wishing Tywanna well as she explores this opportunity to further develop her job skills.

Meet & Confer: As you are aware, we are changing our approach to our monthly Meet & Confers with the Employer. Based on the past several years, we noted that the majority of our time was spent on two arears— issues pertaining to the Human Service Representative job classes and issues pertaining to the Social Worker job classes. Very little of our time has been spent on other issues.  Beginning in May we will hold separate Meet & Confers - one on the first Thursday of each month to discuss items for the Human Service Representatives and one on the third Thursday of the month for those issues pertaining to the Social Worker job classes. We will still continue to bring issues forward as they crop that are global to all job classes. Our sister locals 2822 and 2864, will also continue to bring their issues forward. The agreement is that they will bring them as needed to the meetings on the first Thursday of the month.  Kathy Kelly, Kela Williams and Mara Ssengendo will be responsible for meeting with HSR’s to identify and gather information on issues that pop up.  Laura Ross and Andrea Lazo-Rice will be responsible for meeting with Social Workers to identify and gather information on issues that occur for the myriad of the Social Worker job classes. Please look for notices of meetings to share your concerns as they are scheduled.

Join the Pride Parade:  Help the AFL-CIO celebrate equality by marching in the Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade in Minneapolis on June 26 at 11 a.m. Wear AFSCME green and show your pride with fellow working families. RSVP on Facebook.

AFSCME Picnic: It is not too early to make plans for the AFSCME picnic this summer – Sunday, August 21, 2015 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Battle Creek Regional Park in Maplewood.

Minnesota Union Leadership Program (2016/2017): Now in its seventh year, the Minnesota Union Leadership Program (MULP) helps unions develop and strengthen leaders, equipping participants with the knowledge and skills to address the challenges facing the labor movement. Through six in-depth sessions scheduled over nine months, participants study the labor movement (past, present, and future) while engaging in critical thinking about how workers succeed in building a more just and equitable society. Emerging and established union leaders build relationships and network with their fellow class members and others from the labor movement, learning from each other’s experiences and knowledge. The Labor Education Service at the University of Minnesota coordinates and leads the training. Experienced and knowledgeable speakers from throughout the labor movement and its allied community are included as presenters and panel members. The program starts over three days at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge near Brainerd where participants build relationships and focus on engaging the first two sessions. The remaining sessions take place in St. Paul: three at the Continuing Education and Conference Center of the University of Minnesota and one at the East Side Freedom Library. Read more

Note: AFSCME Local 34 has voted to sponsor up to four Local 34 members if they are accepted into the program. The application deadline is 6/20/2016. Contact President Jean Diederich for further details. 

Are You a PEOPLE Contributor? To make your voice heard in the political arena at the local, state and national levels - where policies affecting your collective bargaining rights, health care, benefits and retirement security are set - we need a strong political action fund. And that is AFSCME PEOPLE. The dollars you voluntarily contribute to AFSCME PEOPLE help us win - and hold on to those rights. Whether we are public or private sector workers or retirees, a strong political presences is vital to our existence as a union. AFSCME PEOPLE is our political action fund. Your contributions, along with the contributions of thousands of fellow AFSCME members from around the country, help to give us the ability to fight for our rights, negotiate better contracts and preserve our economic security when we retire.  JOIN AFSCME PEOPLE today! Your contribution of as little as $4.00 a pay period makes you a PEOPLE MVP and helps us elect politicians who share working family values and hold them accountable.  Please contact our Membership Secretary, Deb Konechne, to-day to sign up for PEOPLE.

Officers not returning this year are Patrick Regan, outgoing Treasurer, and Jacquelin Poole, outgoing Member-at-Large.  Please join us in thanking them for their many years of service to our members. Pat has spent hundreds of hours toiling over our financial books – making sure that all our bills have been paid and forms filed with the necessary agencies such as the MN Dept. of Revenue, the IRS and DEED. His work has been stellar. Jacquelin has served on a number of committees and workgroups for our local with the result that members have been informed of union rights, benefits and activities. Anytime we have had a need for a Member-at-Large to help, she has been one of our volunteers. Thank you to both Pat and Jacquelin. May your time with the County as non-officers be pleasant.   

Student Debt Relief Clinic sponsored by AFSCME Council 5: This was such a popular workshop that folks have asked for more of them.  Our Council 5 Education staff heard your request and have scheduled more of them. If you are interested in attending one of the workshops, please register. Registration is Required! Register with Melinda at This clinic will give you resources to consolidate your loans, apply for Income Driven Repayment Programs and learn if you qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness! Clinic dates: June 1 and June 14, 5:00 PM to 6:30 PM. Location: AFSCME Council 5 Office, 300 Hardman Avenue South, South St. Paul.






Other events to keep in mind

  • June 17, 2016: "Pride" shown at 6:00 PM at East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier St, St. Paul U.K. gay activists work to help miners during the lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984. Dominic West — “The Wire’s” Detective Jimmy McNulty, “The Hour’s” anchor Hector Madden and “300’s” Theron — was a teenager in 1984 and well aware of the British coal miners strike that began in March that year. He was growing up in the comfort of suburbia in a family that supported the strikers’ nemesis, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but his Yorkshire hometown, Sheffield, was the headquarters of the National Union of Mineworkers. “We believed the papers — or my mum did, anyway. She was firmly pro-Thatcher,” West says at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the lineup included “Pride,” his dramedy about an unusual bond that formed between a Welsh mining community and London gay activists during the strike. “Then I went to a really posh school down south,” West continues. “There’s a sort of north-south divide in England. I certainly felt it, anyway. I felt very fish out of water and dislocated there. There was this debate about the miners’ strike, and so I took the side of the miners against this guy Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is really posh now, an MP, the most conservative conservative of all time, much more Thatcherite than Thatcher.” Three decades later, West takes up the cause again in “Pride,” as Jonathan Blake, a member of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. Written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus, the movie won the Cannes Film Festival’s Queer Palm prize and tells the true story of an extraordinary alliance. The idea of the group, the brainchild of a young friend of Blake’s, Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer), was that one besieged community should support another. At the time, AIDS was taking a devastating toll on Britain’s gay population, and homophobia was prevalent. LGSM was formed and started collecting donations to support strikers in the Dulais Valley community in Wales. In the tradition of British films such as “The Full Monty” and “Brassed Off,” the characters in “Pride” rebel against the bleak circumstances that surround them.


  • July 15, 2016: "The Organizer", 6:00 PM, Room 356, United Labor Center, 312 Central Ave SE, Mpls.  Snacks, beer and soda will be available during the films. Donations appreciated! The film is set in Turin at the end of the 19th century and opens with a scene showing workers of all ages, including young teenager Omero (Franco Ciolli), rising at 5:30 in the morning before heading to a textile factory where they work until 8:30 in the evening. Towards the end of the day, fatigue starts taking its toll and disaster strikes when the hand of a drowsy worker is mangled by a machine. Workers Pautasso (Folco Lulli), Martinetti (Bernard Blier), and Cesarina (Elvira Tonelli) decide to form an ad hoc committee and speak to management and state their case that the 14-hour work day needs to be shortened by one hour to avoid accidents arising from exhaustion. Their request is ignored and they are admonished to be more careful. Moreover, a subsequent attempt by the workers to emphasize their grievances by staging a walkout an hour early on the next evening results in a humiliating defeat when they lose their nerve and stay until the usual time. Professor Sinigaglia (Marcello Mastroianni), a labor activist on the run from the police in Genoa, hops off a freight train and comes to hide in the neighborhood. There, he runs into a meeting where the undeterred workers discuss the idea of all coming to work an hour late to make their point. The bookish-looking, unassuming Sinigaglia becomes involved, and in a burst of fiery rhetoric persuades the workers to escalate their struggle by not coming to work at all and going on strike instead.


  • August 12 -14 & 19 - 21, 2016: Working Partnerships booth at the Game Fair near Anoka

  • August 19, 2016: "Matewan", 6:00 PM at East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier St, St Paul

  • August 21, 2016: AFSCME Family Picnic at Battle Creek Regional Park, Maplewood

  • August 25 - September 5, 2016:  AFSCME booth at the Minnesota State Fair

  • September 19, 2016: Working Partnerships Golf Tournament

  • September 22 - 24, 2016: AFSCME Council Convention in Bloomington

  • September 25 - 27, 2016: Minnesota AFL-CIO Convention in Duluth  


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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