Why We Need a Union
Unions matter because employees understand their value and join together to make them work. Does our union matter? Unions matter only if employees believe that their voice matters and then only if employees make their union(s) strong enough to have an impact. Certainly our history says YES, but let us all understand that few things are certain and it takes hard work and commitment to make good things happen. Only with continued support and involvement can we extend our history forward. It is our right to form a union. Once formed, it is our responsibility to make it strong enough to matter. I'm reminded of a song. Let there be Peace on Earth, and let it begin with me. Let our union be strong and let it begin with each of us!.
Employees form Unions in order to attempt to maximize their collective power in the workplace. This typically has to do with getting the best possible wages, benefits, and working conditions. Unions have historically formed when employees felt that they needed this vehicle as a way to cope with the power of the employer. In dealing with a government employer, the employee not only has to cope with their supervisor, department managers, and county administrative people, but also with the voters. No one likes to see their taxes go up, and yet if they don't go up periodically, it can represent a hard time for government employees, as this is the source of our wages. The Union helps employees not only with wage issues but in dealing with the stresses and strains of the workplace. Our stewards provide frequent consultations to employees regarding how to cope in their working relationships with supervisors and co-workers. If you check out the other pages on this web site you will get a good idea as to many of the activities of the Union.
The main advantage is that you get a voice in the affairs of your Union. Union membership allows you to participate as an officer, or a steward, and to vote on how your Union is run. Most importantly Union membership allows you to vote on Union contract proposals. If you don't join you can't vote. Membership in AFSCME (American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) makes you a partner with millions of other government workers who are striving for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions. There are additional benefits through various programs of AFSCME that can be accessed at the following link: AFSCME Member Only Benefits.
Two concepts to get straight are bargaining unit member and Union member. The Hennepin County employees covered by the AFSCME Local 34 contract are part of what is called an agency shop. This means that you do not have to join the union to work here, but if you don't, you are assessed the "fair share" cost for the services that AFSCME provides. That cost represents roughly 85% of the cost of full union dues. The bargaining unit includes all of the employees covered by the contract. Union members are those employees who have actually joined the Union. Fair share payors belong to the bargaining unit, but not the Union. The Union is required to provide services to fair share payors such as contract negotiations, grievance representation, etc. Fair share payors cannot vote on any of the affairs of the union including contract proposals, officer elections, etc. Fair share payors cannot attend Union meetings.
If you are Interested in becoming a Full Union Member, contact one of our stewards or one of our officers about the advantages of full membership.
Not sure if you are a full member or not - contact the Local 34 Membership Secretary to check your status.