Hennepin County Contract Negotiations - 2007 for contract years 2008/2009


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We completed counting the contract vote ballots today - about 12:45 PM.  All six locals -  34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938 - voted by over 82% to accept the contract. The next step will be for the County Board to ratify the contract at the last 2007 Board meeting next  Tuesday, 12/18/07.  Once the Board ratifies it, the terms of the new contract will become effective with the first full pay period in 2008 - the one beginning 1/6/08. There will be a new open enrollment for health insurance so that folks can make changes based on the terms in the new contract - information about that will be sent out by the Employer.

Thanks to all of you who took time out from your busy work day to exercise your right to vote.
Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34

NOTE: The County Board approved the 2008 budget. That budget included the terms of the contract we voted to accept. Raises should be reflected with the payroll period beginning January 6, 2008.


AFSCME Local 34 Recommends Ratification of Contract Agreement

AFSCME Council 5 locals and Hennepin County reached a tentative agreement on 11/29/2007 following 25 hours of negotiating. Voting by the membership on the agreement is set for Wednesday, 12/12/2007.

The union's Table Team and Master Negotiating Committee recommends that you vote YES to accept the proposed agreement. After discussion, both the Table Team and the Master Team felt that this proposal would deliver the most money to the members of the Union as a whole over the next two years, and raise the top salary for employees moving to the top step in future years. Currently, approximately 65% of the employees the Union represents are at the top step.

Our Union started our Contract Campaign in 2006. This campaign has impacted the outcome of negotiations. What our membership did away from the negotiating table to get the proposed agreement was more important than what we did at the table. Thanks for supporting your union at the negotiating table.

Letter from AFSCME Local 34 President

Summary of Contract Proposal & Voting Times / Locations

Tentative Contract Agreement Reached

Negotiation Update 11/29/2007:The Employer and the 6 AFSCME unions reached a tentative agreement about 10:00 AM on Thursday, 11/29/07 (after 25 hours of negotiations, but who would be counting?). The Master Negotiations Committee will meet on Thursday, 12/6/07, 5:00 p.m., G.C. auditorium, at which time the offer will be presented for review. The Union Table Team, comprised of members from Locals 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2964 and 2938, voted to recommend acceptance of the offer to the Master Negotiations Committee. Until the offer has been shared with this group, details will not be made public. Final results of the Mater Team recommendations will be posted here on 12/7/2007. The information about the time schedule for a vote on the contract will also be posted at that time. Members will be sent a letter with the summary of the offer via US mail so that you can study it before the vote.

  I would like to thank our Local 34 Table Team members - Andrea Lazo-Rice, Clifford Robinson, Laurie Simon, Patrick Regan and Wesley Volkenant and our Business Agent, Matt Nelson - for their long hours of hard work since the negotiations process began with our presentation of the Union proposal to the Employer on July 30th. They spent many hours reviewing proposals and counter-proposals, participating in discussions on issues with our sisters and brothers from the other locals, and working towards crafting and fine-tuning our proposals. I would also like to thank Shawnice Watson who joined us for the final push on Wednesday. We needed her expertise to resolve our supplemental proposal on the uniform allowance for our Medical Assistants and Licensed Practical Nurses at NorthPoint. A thank you also goes to Shannon Wesley who began the process with us before she resigned her position as Chief Steward with the local. She gave valuable insights during her tenure on the Table Team and her efforts are much appreciated. IA special thanks goes to Wes Volkenant for his ability to crunch numbers and make those numbers easily understandable for the various health insurance proposals. I feel very privileged to have been able to work alongside this fine group of folks. They represented you well.  

A big thanks also goes to the Table Team members from the other locals: Local 552 - Tim Turrentine, Rhonda Bode, Rick Wituski, Denny Porter and Pat Guernsey; Local 1719 - Dean Enge, Aaron Printup, Steve Franks and Dale Blom; Local 2822 - Molly Malecki, Janna Carlson, Alice Kelly, Lynn Stetler, Theresa Smith with Local 99 members Dirk Schot and Marilyn Bell; Local 2864 - Jan DeSirey, Caron Chapman, Holly Rakocy and Lisa Kjellander; and Local 2938 - Deb Bernard, Ernie Dial, Laura Floistad and Cliff Poehler as well as their Business Agents, Steve Marincel and Jeff Dains.  Jerry Serfling, Metro Area Director, Jennifer Munt, Council 5 Communications guru and Eliot Seide, Council 5 Executive Director joined us for our final push on Wednesday/Thursday - joining us around 3:30 PM on Wednesday and staying with us to the end of the process. 

  Our not praised and thanked enough companion in this journey is our note-taker, Rhea Hickerson-Taylor, from Local 2822, As Wes Volkenant can attest, this can be a very thankless job. You get to sit through all of the sessions, must have the ability to listen closely to all the conversations, are responsible for taking detailed notes on those conversations for both the minutes of the sessions as well as typing up all the Union proposals but you are a silent partner as you do not have a vote. The bottom line is that we could not be effective without our note-taker so we owe a HUGE round of applause to Rhea.  

The Hennepin Action Team, chaired by Brenda Wood, did a stellar job of providing support to us throughout the process. She and the members of the Action Team made sure that we had what we needed to keep us going.   

Thanks to all of you who supported us by attending the rallies, posting the posters at your work sites, shared information with your coworkers, contacted your Commissioners, and sent us words of encouragement. We would not be at this point without all of you.

A contract summary will be mailed to the Local 34 membership on 12/7. Voting on the contract offer has been tentatively scheduled for December 12. Stay tuned for convenient voting locations and times. The schedule and a summary of the offer will be posted HERE ON 12/7/2008.

Thanks much! Jean Diederich, AFSCME Local 34 President



Negotiation Update 11/7/2007: The Interim Agreement offered to us by the County for the health insurance premiums was approved by those Local 34 members who voted on this issue at our General Assembly this evening.

What this means is that for the period January 1, 2008 - March 31, 2008, the interim premium cost will be $25.00 for those who choose single coverage and $377.07 for those who choose family coverage during the County's open enrollment period which  began today, November 7th.The money will be withheld from our paychecks for December 2007 - February 2008.

Please keep in mind that the rates will most likely change as we have not negotiated a final Employer contribution for the 2008 insurance rates. Once we have a new contract, the Employer will hold a second open enrollment period so that folks can make any changes to their enrollment status based on the negotiated rates.

Thank you to all of you who took time out of your busy schedules to attend the General Assembly this evening, listened to the explanation of the Interim Agreement, asked questions, added your comments and voted. Your actions have an impact on our entire membership.

I apologize for being several minutes late. I was on the phone with one of our members who was not able to make it to the meeting who wanted to share her concerns about the process and about health insurance in general. Her comments, along with all of your comments about the impact the increased costs have on your budgets, will certainly be on the minds of our Table Team - Cliff Robinson, Andrea Lazo-Rice, Pat Regan, Laurie Simon, Wes Volkenant and myself - when we return to our last scheduled day of mediation on Wednesday, November 28th.

Also, thank you to everyone who was not able to attend the meeting tonight who voiced your concerns about the short notice and having only one place/site to vote. As noted, our Local 34 Constitution does spell out the process we must follow for votes on our contract.  Because of the time constraints, we were not able to expand the voting times and sites. The Local 34 Executive Board officers do appreciate the fact that not everyone who wanted to vote on this matter could make it to the meeting.

Thank you, Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME local 34




Brief Update / Survey on Negotiations 10/31/2007


Negotiation Update 10/29/2007: An interim plan for health insurance coverage has been proposed by the county in the event the parties do not arrive at a mutual agreement through the negotiations process prior to the new rates going into effect.. CLICK HERE to read the specifics of the proposal. Interim premiums and Interim Employee contributions toward such premiums for the period of this Memorandum of Understanding shall be: 

          Single Premium                          $538.72/month

          Single Employee Contribution    $25.00/month

          Family Premium                          $1,508.30/month

          Family Employee Contribution    $377.07/month

Interim plan would run from 1/1/2008 through 3/31/2008.

CORRECTION MADE 11/1/2007: If the INTERIM proposal IS ADOPTED by the membership, the cost would be $25/month for single employee coverage and $377.07/month for family coverage. If the INTERIM proposal IS NOT ADOPTED by the membership, single employee coverage would cost $57.72/month and family coverage would cost $497.96/month.  $57.72/month and family coverage would cost $497.96/month. We are still negotiating contributions and tiers for 2008. Any increases on health insurance premiums paid in the interim can be rebated back when the contract is settled.

CLARIFICATION PROVIDED BY MATT NELSON, LOCAL 34 BUSINESS AGENT (11/2/2007): We are doing an interim insurance plan because the County has open enrollment this month (11/2007) starting with the new rates in December. We will not agree to a new contract before then so the County is agreeing to pay more than what is in the contract starting in December for January. If we do not agree members will be paying $57.72 for single insurance and $497.95 for family insurance. If we agree to the interim agreement then single insurance will be $25 and family insurance will be $375. 

Two years ago we did the same thing. We were able to agree to new health insurance changes before open enrollment so we did not have to do the interim health insurance. When we got the new contract two years ago we were able to keep single insurance for $0. When we agree to new health insurance changes in the new contract there will be a new open enrollment period.

It is correct that if the members pay the extra amount they may get it back in negotiations. However, back pay from health insurance premiums is subject to negotiations so we do not know if we will get it paid back. Also, members may drop out of health insurance if they cannot pay
the whole increase.

    AFSCME Local 34 members will vote on whether or not to accept this proposed interim agreement at the 11/7/2007 General Membership Meeting, to be held at 5:30 in the Health Services Building (HSB), Room 112. Please plan to attend to express your opinion and vote on this interim proposal.


Please read the 10/29/2007 TABLE TALK shown below for additional information on the current status of negotiations.  





Table Talk - 10/29/2007


Negotiations Interview with KFAI Radio featuring Jean Diederich


Table Talk - 10/3/2007


Administrator's 2008 Budget Presentation


2008 County Budget Update (9/26/2007)


Employer Proposal to Hennepin County Workers (9/24/2007)


As Talks Continue, Hennepin County Workers Prepare For Strike (9/19/2007)


Remarks – Eliot Seide – AFSCME Council 5 Director - Hennepin County Contract Rally (9/18/2007)

2007 Contract Rally Photos (9/18/2007)


County Board Approves 2008 Maximum Tax Levy (9/6/2007)

Table Talk - 8/20/2007

Employer's Initial Proposal - 8/13/2007

Union Opening Remarks - 7/30/2007

2008 - 2009 AFSCME Master Contract Proposal - 7/30/2007

Negotiations Schedule - 7/30/2007

Action Team Update #1 - 7/27/2007

AFSCME Picnic Photos - 7/21/2007

Table Talk - 2/2007


Local 34 Table Team Members: Table Team members are responsible for attending all negotiation sessions with the county, as well as arbitration sessions if needed, until either a contract agreement is reached or a strike action is taken. Table Team members from Local 34 are Jean Diederich, Wes Volkenant, Shannon Wesley, Cliff Robinson, Andrea Lazo-Rice, Laurie Simon, and Patrick Regan.


Master Negotiations Team Members: Master Team members were responsible for putting together the Local 34 contract proposal. Master Team members were Andrea Lazo-Rice, Clifford Robinson, DeAnna DeLoach, Jean Diederich, John Herzog, Kathleen (Katie) Farber, Kela Williams, Kristina Przybilla, Laurie Simon, Mary Kay Popko, Patrick Regan, Shannon Wesley, Terry Grace, and Wesley Volkenant.

Your Full Negotiation Team:

Business Agents: Jeff Dains Steve Marincel Matt Nelson Local 34: Jean Diederich Andrea Lazio-Rice Patrick Regan Clifford Robinson Laurie Simon Wesley Volkenant Shannon Wesley Local 552: Tim Turrentine Rhonda Bode Patrick Guernsey Dennis Porter Local 1719: Dean Enge Dale Blom Steve Franks Aaron Printup Local 2822: Molly Malecki Janna Carlson Alice Kelly Genae Nicole Lynn Stetler Local 99: Dirk Schot Marilyn Bell Local 2864: Jan DeSirey Caron Chapman Lisa Kjellander Holly Rakocy Local 2938: Ernie Dial Deb Bernard Laura Floistad Cliff Poehler Note taker: Rhea Hickerson-Taylor.

Hennepin County Joint Negotiations Locals: 4,000 AFSCME members from six Hennepin County Locals - Local 34 (Social and Health Services), Local 552 (Probation and Parole), Local 1719 (Adult Corrections Officers), Local 2822 (Clerical), Local 2864 (Professional Librarians), and Local 2938 (Legal  Unit).


Strike Committee Chair: Ray Elliot - AFSCME Local 552: If you are interested in serving on the Strike Committee for this year's round of negotiations, please contact either jean Diederich, Local 34 President or Ray Elliot, Local 552 ASAP. You can contact Ray Elliot, Strike Committee Chair, through his email address: relliotthenncty@yahoo.com. A good portion of the legwork was completed two years ago when the Strike Handbook was compiled - you might remember getting it on your desk. We hope that we never have to actually utilize the work of the Strike Committee but it is always better to be prepared and not need something than to need it and not be ready!


Of course we hope a strike won’t be necessary, but in case things are too awful, people should start getting prepared. There would not be a strike before January 2008. Our contract ends 12-31-2007. So you have several months to start stocking up on food, putting away a little money from each paycheck and thinking about what you would do if we were on strike for a few weeks. We have to be prepared.


Action Committee Chair: Brenda Wood - AFSCME Local 552


What You Can Do: Local 34 members can take active roles in this year’s Action and Strike Committees, which are led by AFSCME Local 552 members, Brenda Wood and Ray Eliot. You can join us at General Assembly meetings for updates, you can wear green and wave banners at rallies, you can work with co-workers to prepare ahead, and you can make personal preparations in the event of difficult negotiations. Local 34 members should read Table Talks, talk to their officers, stewards and Table Team members, ask questions, and you should decide how important wages, insurance, and other key negotiation points are to you as the negotiations move into November! 


Negotiation Kickoff Picnic: Hennepin County AFSCME members and their families got together at French Lake Regional Park in July for a contract kickoff event to share a little fun and some mighty good food. Members from AFSCME Locals 34, 552, 977, 1719, 1726, 2474, 2822, 2864 and 2938 enjoyed each other's company and shared a bit of solidarity as we prepare for this year's contract negotiations.


Collective Bargaining at a Glance: Collective Bargaining is the ability of a group of employees to negotiate a contract with their employer. This contract determines the terms and conditions of employment, as well as salary and benefits. Terms and conditions of employment include items such as: overtime distribution, hours of work, how vacancies are filled, disciplinary procedures, and job safety. Salary and benefits include: pay, overtime rates, holidays, vacation, sick leave, insurance, and any other economic items.

Negotiations are a give and take process by which a mutually acceptable outcome is achieved. Once successful, the employer and the union become the two parties to a contract, and they both agree to the terms of the agreement.

Why do we bargain? As a union, we have the right to negotiate our salary, as well as terms and conditions of our employment with the boss. Without this, the employer decides solely what to pay employees, what benefits they receive, and under what conditions they perform their job.

The law gives us this right! In 1935, Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) giving employees the right to organize unions and bargain collectively with their employer. However, this law only covered the private sector. Congress left it up to the states to determine what rights public employees would have. The Minnesota legislature passed the Public Employees Labor Relations Act (PELRA) in 1971. This law gave public employees the right to bargain collectively as a union. Once a group of employees decides to organize themselves as a union, the employer is obligated to negotiate with them. The Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS) administers the law. In some states, public employees still do not have this right.

State Employees Got 3.25%+ 3.25%: After a marathon week of bargaining, AFSCME’s State Negotiating Team won the largest wage increase that state employees have seen since 2002 - but it took a two-week strike to get that raise from Governor Ventura. Their tentative agreement included a 3.25 percent wage increase for 2008; a 3.25 percent wage increase for 2009, or 45-cents per hour, whichever was greater; and only modest increases in out-of-pocket costs for health care. 



You can CLICK HERE to read an archived summary from the 2005-2006 Contract Negotiations.