Hennepin County Workers Fight Back

Contract Negotiation Rally 10/24/2011

The six AFSCME locals at Hennepin County include about 4,000 members. The October 24th noontime rally inside the Hennepin County Government Center drew about 400 people. Their chanting echoed in the atrium: 

"Who does the work? We do."

Beverly A.T. Mackey and Gail E. Shannon, both of AFSCME Local 34, chant “We Are One!”

Steve Buck and Local 563 Laborers stand in solidarity with AFSCME Members

Next Wave

AFSCME families attended the Rally

400 Hennepin County workers rallied at the Government Center October 24th, fighting the continuing degradation of their jobs and the county’s ongoing demands for pay and contract concessions.

U of M Local 3800 joined Hennepin County AFSCME Locals at their Soidarity Rally

Who Does the Work? WE DO!

Speaker after speaker said they continue to try to serve the public well, in spite of fewer resources and diminishing financial rewards. “We’re doing a lot more with a lot, lot less, to the point that it’s getting dangerous”.

Mary Sandstrom (Local 34) and Marge Huber (Local 2822)

“The county’s offer of nothing, nothing and nothing is an insult.”

The county’s contract proposals would implement huge shifts in health insurance costs and completely freeze wages for two years: no raises, no steps, no stability pay. That would make it four straight years of no general pay raises. Meanwhile, county employees continue to work harder – the result of 500 jobs being slashed since 2008.

The crowd - AFSCME members and supporters from other unions – greeted speakers with chants of “We Are One!” and “Who Does The Work? We do!” The chants echoed off 20 floors of windows that overlook the atrium where they gathered for their noontime rally.

The current agreement, which expires December 31st, included a two-year wage freeze. The County seeks another two-year wage freeze and its proposal also would eliminate step increases and stability pay, while increasing health insurance premiums.

The Hennepin County AFSCME contract covers Human Services Local 34, Probation and Parole Local 552, Adult Corrections Local 1719, Clerical Local 2822, Professional Local 2864, and County Attorneys Local 2938.

"I work with probation officers trying to see what is a manageable caseload and it keeps going up, it keeps going up," said Jim Ahrens, Minneapolis, a principal planning analyst and member of AFSCME Local 2864 who has worked 19 years for Hennepin County. "They're working a lot harder… They're being asked to do overtime. We're all stretched…"

"They have the money to pay us raises and pay us steps. they're just not willing to do it," said Maggie Keating, Minneapolis, a senior social worker and member of AFSCME Local 34 who has worked 22 years for Hennepin County. "We have more and more clients coming through and needing services and there aren't services."