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A benefit to help pay the medical bills of AFSCME Local 1539 member Mark Baker takes place February 28th in Frederic, Wis. Baker is recovering from an auto accident in which he was submerged in an icy creek in Pine County for four hours. His car apparently spun out on a snowy road while he was on his way to work in Rush City.

Three months later, Baker continues to suffer the effects of a brain injury and still has limited use of his left arm and leg. He will not be able to return to work.

Baker is a corrections officer in Rush City Local 1539. He is also a former member of Stillwater Local 600, and was a field representative at Council 5 before returning to corrections last year. Read more

The next Labor Lunch will be held on March 19 from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. Location is the GC Auditorium. 

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!

 Established in April 1950, AFSCME Local 34 represents over 2000 Social Service employees of Hennepin County.

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AFSCME Local 34, P.O. Box 15222, Commerce Station, Mpls., Mn. 55415


AFSCME Local 34                                                               Updated 1/28/2015

The February Edition of the Local 34 Newsletter has been posted!

Young Workers across the country are standing up and taking action for workers everywhere!




Clocking in Shouldn’t Mean Putting Your Life on the Line! AFSCME members are standing up for safe staffing. Clocking in shouldn’t mean putting your life on the line. That’s why AFSCME members who work with violent patients and inmates are standing up for safe staffing. We all deserve to work a safe shift and return home to our families who count on us. Safe staffing is now a hot topic being debated at the Legislature. The number of patient-on-staff assaults is surging at Minnesota Security Hospitals and psychiatric facilities. There has also been an alarming increase in violence toward health care workers at hospitals like Fairview, Regions and HCMC. The number of inmates in state prisons and county jails is also rising as corrections staff has been cut by the budget axe. Those trends should prompt lawmakers to protect the public workers who protect the public. Read more  

Vote for People Who Will Protect our Pensions! County and local government employees can vote now for trustees on the PERA board – the Public Employees Retirement Association. AFSCME recommends voting for these candidates to safeguard your pension: Active (General Fund and Corrections Fund): Paul Bourgeois, Clinton Schumacher, Thomas Stanley Retiree: Ross Arneson. 

Voting: Members can return their ballot by mail, vote by phone at 1-800-838-3873 or vote online. Candidate profiles are available online. Your vote could determine the future of retirement security for Minnesota's public workers. The last day to vote is Saturday January 31. ~ In solidarity - AFSCME

Job Opening: Field Director, AFSCME Council 5! The Field Director will function as a member of the management team to oversee the operation of AFSCME MN Council 5 and implement the programs and direction determined by the Council 5 Executive Board. This employee will be involved in all facets of the organization and will assist in budget preparations, program development, training and program implementation. The employee will attend Council 5 Executive Board meetings and provide reports to the Board as appropriate. The Field Director will report to the Chief of Staff. Deadline to apply is 4:00 pm, January 30th. Learn more and apply

AFSCME Day on the Hill this year will be held on Tuesday, March 24th. This event will be held at the Crowne Plaza in St Paul with a plenary session and workshops in the morning and lobbying at the Capitol in the afternoon. The day is capped off with a reception in the evening. It is our opportunity to join our fellow AFSCME neighbors in talking to our legislators about our concerns and issues. A motion was passed to send up to 34 members. The election will be held at the February 4th General Assembly meeting.

Month of Service - Keeping the Dream Alive! Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 after marching with our fellow AFSCME members, the sanitation workers who were on strike as they fought to improve their lives by improving their working conditions. To commemorate the sacrifices of the sanitation workers and Dr. King, Council 5 is organizing a “month of service” this spring. The goal is a unified, statewide effort showing how we AFSCME members improve lives in our communities when we are off the clock. The plan is for members to take part in a volunteer or community service activity where we work or live between March 25th and April 24th. It all concludes with a one-day project and celebration in the Twin Cities on Saturday April 25.   We can do this with coworkers, families and friends and may be some-thing that we are already doing such as keeping our block clean, serving in a food kitchen, helping at your child’s school, etc. We will discuss this at the February 4th General Assembly meeting. Please bring your suggestions for possible activities to the meeting.

Education, Engagement, and Outreach! The EE&O Committee will next meet on February 9th at HSB 110. They are focusing on a next Labor Lunch topic of Wage Theft/Working off the Clock, a topic our Local 34 newsletter discussed in January. Local 2822 has created a Timesheet Calculator to determine if you are working off the clock.  

Labor Movie Night! February 20 - Killing Floor—Two African-American men migrate from the rural south to Chicago during World War I and land jobs in a packing house. They respond very differently to the challenges presented. The film deals forthrightly and pretty effectively with racism in the workplace and the union and ends with the 1919 riots and their aftermath.  

Minnesota Union Women’s Retreat will be held April 22 – 24, 2015 at Ruttger’s Bay Lodge near Brainerd, MN. This event is geared towards mobilizing women to improve their workplace, union and community. A motion was passed to send up to 6 members to this event. The election will be held at the February 4th General Assembly meeting. Read more at Workday Minnesota.

Netroots Nation will be held in Phoenix, Arizona July 16 -19, 2015. The central topic for this year is immigration and social media’s ability to effect change in the existing policies. A motion was passed to send up to 2 members to this event. The delegates will be elected at the March 4th General Assembly meeting. Please plan to attend that meeting to put your name forward and to let us know your plans for utilizing the experience and knowledge gained to help our local continue our growth.

Opportunity to spend a day at the Capitol! Tim Adams, one of our AFSCME Council 5 political staff, attended our January 14th General Assembly to introduce himself to us. He talked about the work ahead of us for the 2015 legislative year and asked us to spend a day at the Capitol visiting with our Senators and Representatives to talk about issues of concern to us such as local government aid, transportation, pensions, education, etc. He noted that issues affecting workers across the state are important to all of us. If you are interested in helping, please email Tim Adams or call Tim at 651-295-1677 and he will answer your questions and set a date for you to help.

Giving Women Leaders Opportunity! AFSCME International is accepting applications from local officers and activists for the 2015 Women’s Leadership Academy. The academy includes a five-day orientation June 22-26 and a three-day finale in December. In between, participants must complete a campaign project in their local or council, and take part in frequent webinars and other networking. Details: More information on qualifications, who is responsible for which costs, and the application process is available online. Applications are due March 7.

Local 34 Elections! Wes Volkenant is the Elections Chair for 2015 with Vicki Moore as Nominations Chair. Nominations will be taken at both the February and March General Membership meetings. If you have been a dues paying member of Local 34 for one year, you are eligible to seek an office. 2015 officer election notice

Negotiations is About to Get Started! Here is a brief refresher of how AFSCME negotiations work in Hennepin County: Each of the seven AFSCME locals - 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864, and both parts of 2938 - combine together as the Hennepin Policy Committee to organize our negotiations, any potential strike and the educational/action efforts during negotiations. Any member of Local 34 in good standing may be part of the large “Master Committee” the next few months, developing our proposals for the next contract. From this group, each local chooses a small number (usually 5-7 for Local 34) to be on the “Table Team.” The Table Team meets face-to-face with the Employer’s representatives, and later through a mediator, to reach an agreement by November. The Master Committee then meets again and recommends acceptance or rejection of the offer. Contact Jean Diederich, President, Local 34 if you are interested in learning more or becoming involved in negotiations.

Do You Have What it Takes to Put Out a Local 34 Newsletter Each Month? Editor Wes Volkenant recently informed the Local 34 E-Board that he intends to step down as Editor sometime in 2015, if the Local finds an interested member who’d like to take on this opportunity – or challenge, and if the Local decides to continue putting forward a regular newsletter for its membership. Perhaps my successor might be you! If you’re interested, Wes would be happy to show you what he does each month to put these editions of the newsletter before the membership. E-mail Wes or President Jean Diederich to express your interest!

Did You Get Our Text? AFSCME Council 5 is launching a text message alert network. Messages will update members about legislative action they can take – and help us coordinate our actions and locations during rallies and other events. To sign up: Text MN5 to 237263, then follow the prompts.  

The next Labor Lunch will be held on March 12 from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. Location is TBD.



Union Plus Scholarships! Full dues paying members, members’ children and spouses qualify to apply for the Union Plus scholarship. The deadline is January 31 at noon. Applications must be completed online. Award amounts vary from $500 to $4,000.  

MN AFL-CIO Scholarships & Martin Duffy Adult Learner Scholarships! The Minnesota AFL-CIO is proud to have scholarships available for union members and their dependents. The Minnesota AFL-CIO scholarship is awarded to five (5) recipients in 2015 to graduating high school seniors who are union members or the dependents of union members. The scholarship application deadline for both scholarships is April 30, 2015. Read more  

Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarships – A Labor and Education Partnership! Applications for the 2015-2016 academic year are now being accepted. The Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship is available to minority students from union families attending or planning to attend one of the 31 technical colleges, community colleges and/or state universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. Applications must be postmarked no later than June 1, 2015 to be considered. Read more




  • One of our favorite union songs, Solidarity Forever, is 100 years old! This anthem of the American Labor Movement was written in 1915 by IWW organizer Ralph Chaplin, inspired by striking West Virginia coal miners.

  • The current federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009 to $7.25 an hour. If the wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be $10.74 an hour today.

  • The first issue of the Union Advocate, the newspaper for working people in St. Paul, Minnesota, was first published on January 22, 1897.  The Advocate is one of three labor newspapers still published in Minnesota. The others are the Duluth Labor World, founded in 1896, and the Minneapolis Labor Review, started in 1907.  

  • The percentage of workers in unions dropped by two tenths of a percent in 2014. Despite the small percentage of union workers in the workforce, though, union workers in 2014 still had higher median wages than non-union workers – $193 more per week. Just 11.1 percent of all U.S. workers were in unions in 2014, according to the Labor Department.

  • The Koch brothers have plans to spend close to $900 million in 2016 to keep Republicans in control of Congress and hopefully get a conservative as president.

  • Already the richest country in the world, the United States reached its highest cumulative wealth ever in 2013. It ranked fourth in the world in wealth per person, with $348,000 for every American adult. But the average American wouldn’t know it. Thanks to economic policies that favor the super-rich and fuel inequality, the typical US adult’s total wealth is $31,688 — not even close to $348,000. And things aren’t poised to change: The median household brought in $51,939 in 2013, a real dollar increase of just $180 from 2012.

  • The US ranks 75th out of 137 countries when it comes to women’s representation in politics.

  • In 2014, Congress passed about 4 percent of the bills (352 out of 9252) that were introduced by lawmakers. By comparison, the Minnesota legislature passed 5 percent of the bills (332 out of 6735)that were introduced by lawmakers.

  • 179 coal-fired power plants have been shuttered in the last four years alone.  

  • As thousands of Delta flight attendants wait for the National Mediation Board to schedule a union election Delta Airlines has reported another record profit. Delta made $4.5 billion in 2014.


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