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)


How do today’s unions help working people?


Union workers earn more.  Union workers typically earn about 13 percent more than their non-union peers.

Union women earn more.  Women represented by unions earn 9 percent more than their non-union peers.  Women who work in Minnesota’s public sector earn equal pay for equal work.  Meanwhile, non-union women still earn only 78 cents for every dollar a man makes.

Unions close the wage gap for black and Hispanic workers.  Black union members today earn 14.7 percent more and Hispanic union members earn 21.8 percent more than their non-union peers.  Union contracts establish pay transparency, where workers know what other workers earn.  That allows unions to correct salary discrepancies and establish fair terms for raises and promotions.  Unions also help workers who have been discriminated against achieve equity on the job.               

Unions keep workers safe.  There are fewer injuries and fatalities in unionized workplaces and fewer health and safety violations at unionized construction sites.  In recent years, unions have helped nurses secure protection from violence in the workplace, helped laborers avoid exposure to disease-causing chemicals, and helped firefighters receive treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unions support strong families with better health care.  More than 90 percent of workers covered by a union contract have employer-sponsored health care benefits, compared with 70 percent of non-union workers.  The employer contribution to unionized workers’ benefits is 77 percent higher than the employer’s contribution for non-union workers.

Unions help workers retire with dignity.  Union members are more likely to have pensions and employers tend to contribute more to their plans.  Today, 90 percent of union workers participate in a retirement plan, compared with 75 percent of non-union workers.  Also, 74 percent of union workers who have pensions participate in a traditional defined benefit pension, compared with 15 percent of non-union workers.   

Unions help workers share ideas about how to improve workplaces without fear of retaliation.  Working people on the frontlines have some of the best ideas to make their workplaces more productive.  Unions provide the means for workers to share their knowledge about what works and what doesn’t.     

No wonder the popularity of unions has grown in recent years.  Their favorability hit 60 percent in a January 2017 survey by Pew.  In fact, unions are most popular among young people; even a majority of millennial Republicans support unions!

Union workers are diverse, just like America




Closed group: Email Amanda Abell for an invite



     AFSCME Local 34                                     Updated 9/18/2017



Did you know?

In the 1930s, the first steps towards our current health care system occurred. At the time, hospital care was largely reserved for the rich. The system was purely fee for service, meaning anyone that couldn’t afford those fees relied on charity care in public hospitals (this included the majority of working people). This began to change in 1929, when Baylor University offered a $6 per year plan that guaranteed professors up to 21 days of hospital coverage annually. The “Baylor plan,” along with a prepaid plan covering miners and lumber workers in the Pacific Northwest, would become a company now known as Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the model for employer-based health care in the United States.

Make blankets for shelter

If you’d like to help women and children affected by domestic violence, join Council 5 members for an evening of pizza, crafting and fellowship. We’ll be making fleece blankets for the women and children who seek help from Safe Haven Shelter and Resource Center in Duluth, which is staffed by Local 3558 members. The Blanket Party is Wednesday, September 20, from 5 to 9 p.m. Location: AFSCME Council 5 office. Contact or call 651-287-0558.

Canada demands end to U.S. ‘right-to-work’ laws

Prodded by the president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, the Canadian government is formally demanding that a “new NAFTA” force the United States to eliminate so-called “right-to-work” anti-union laws. Not only that, adds Unifor President Jerry Dias, but his government wants the negotiations on a revised North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico to require the three countries to sign and follow all eight International Labor Organization conventions specifying workers’ rights worldwide. Read more at Workday Minnesota

What is the AFSCME Free College Benefit?

It’s a program exclusively for AFSCME members and their families to take classes online through Eastern Gateway Community College in Ohio. You can earn credits toward a two-year associate degree. It’s free and flexible. The online format allows you to work from wherever and whenever. You can transfer your credits to four-year programs at most institutions. Visit to learn more and to apply.

Can they work together?

Retired Hennepin County Judge Rick Solum will mediate the budget dispute between the Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton that resulted from Dayton’s line-item vetoes of funding for the House and Senate. The sides informed the Minnesota Supreme Court of the selection on Tuesday ahead of a deadline imposed by justices. The court ordered the case into mediation before it issues a final decision in the lawsuit filed by the Legislature this summer. Lawmakers sued after Dayton’s veto, saying he breached separation of powers with the action. A lower court sided with the Legislature and nullified the veto. Solum said he expects the mediation to commence next week but said nothing has been set.

There is time pressure for the mediation because a temporary funding agreement for the Legislature runs out in October. After that, the Legislature will have to exhaust reserves, lay off staff and potentially withhold paychecks. The Supreme Court wants an update on the progress of mediation by September 30. Solum said in general he sees his mediator role as talking with each side separately and shuttling between the sides to explore a possible agreement. “If they can, terrific,” Solum said. “If they don’t, there is no compulsion involved in the mediation process. It is an entirely nonbinding process.”

Obama foundation summit

On October 31st and November 1st, the Obama Foundation will welcome civic leaders from around Chicago, the U.S., and the world to join us for a two-day immersive event in Chicago. During this inaugural Summit, hundreds of leaders from around the world will come together to exchange ideas, explore creative solutions. We’re inviting people from around the world to attend the Summit, but we’re saving a handful of spots for applicants through We’re inviting incredible young leaders who are passionate about social change and civic engagement to apply to attend. The ideal candidate is active in their community, and will bring a unique perspective to share with other attendees. No matter if you’re from a rural town or a big city, we want to hear about the positive impact you’re having in your community, and why you should join us in Chicago. *Please note: Applications will close at 7PM EST on Wednesday, September 27.ns to common problems, and experience civic art, technology, and music from around the world. READ MORE TO APPLY

Unions respond to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma with help, funds

By Barb Kucera, Workday Minnesota

From dispatchers and utility line workers to health care professionals and FEMA employees, union members are stepping in to help during and after the devastating hurricanes in the southern United States. Numerous labor organizations also are conducting fundraising to aid affected communities. Hurricanes Irma and Harvey mark the first time in U.S. history that two Atlantic Category 4 landfalls have occurred in the same year, according to meteorologists. Both storms caused widespread devastation, with at least 70 deaths attributed to Harvey and the numbers still being counted for Irma. Scores of communities are flooded and electrical power was knocked out to hundreds of thousands of people. READ MORE  

“The resources of our world belong to the people and not to corporations” - A conversation with the feminist Latina labor leader at the center of a new documentary 

Dolores, the new documentary about Dolores Huerta, chronicles the life and activism of one of America’s foremost feminists, Latinas and labor leaders, who created the United Farm Workers union with César Chávez in the 1960s. The 87-year-old iconic organizer still has that “si se puede” spirit: Last year Huerta traveled to Standing Rock to support the indigenous-led anti-pipeline cause. The 97-minute nonfiction film directed by Peter Bratt and produced by Carlos Santana includes interviews with Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem. Huerta was interviewed for In These Times at a Los Angeles movie theater and answered follow up questions by phone. READ MORE

Re-Build USA 

Re-Build USA, an organization advocating for increased investments in American infrastructure, recently produced a compelling video highlighting the importance of formal apprenticeship education and training in developing the skilled workforce that will be needed to re-build and repair America’s crumbling infrastructure…while also providing opportunities for American of all walks of life to acquire career training that literally changes lives for the better. Watch the Re-Build USA Video

Union jobs fair

The Northwest Suburbs Community Labor Coalition and Working Partnerships are hosting a Union Jobs Fair on September 27th at the Pipefitters Training Center (6200 Lakeland Avenue north, Brooklyn Park). They are inviting a variety of union employers and union training & apprenticeship programs to participate in the employer panel and hiring event.



New Local 34 Vice President: We held our special election at the Local 34 Executive Board meeting on August 16, 2017 to fill the vacant Vice President seat. Please join us in congratulating Alex Erickson as our new Vice President. He will begin his term of office effective September 1, 2017. Please join us in thanking Linda Flykt, Tamika Hannah and Kay Powell for putting their names forward. It is always encouraging to see our members step up to run for office. Note: Alex will also be taking over as the Local 34 WEB Developer soon. A new design and layout for the site is currently under production.


Calling all future Local 34 Stewards!! 

Are YOU interested in learning more about the grievance process? Would you like to become more involved in our local, while also acting as a resource for your peers? Become a Local 34 Steward! Stewards act as a union representative for members during investigatory meetings, grievance hearings and more. 

If you would like more information, please contact Senior Chief Steward Kenneth W. Garnier (South Regional Service Center) and/or Junior Chief Steward Brian Olson (Northwest Regional Service Center).  



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.

AFSCME strong events are scheduled for 9/14 at the North Hub and TBD in November at the South Hub. 

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 events are in September and November, 2017

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

Upcoming Dates/Locations:  

  • November - South Hub

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.  

Member Action Team meeting: The next MAT meeting is 10/18. All are welcome. Contact Deb Konechne for more information.  

Steward Training: The next Stewards’ Training is scheduled for 10/9/17.


John Herzog - WEB Developer

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

Have a great day and thank you for visiting our union's website!