One Strong, United Voice for Workers

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



President's blog

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

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Retail janitors celebrate historic first contract 

Retail janitors who are sub-contracted to clean Best Buy, Macys, Lund’s, Target and other stores in the Twin Cities metro announced Wednesday they finalized a first contract with their employers as members of Service Employees International Union Local 26.

The workers engaged in a multi-year fight that saw them go on multiple 24-hour strikes to organize the first industry-wide union of big box janitors in a major metropolitan area. Their organizing began through a Minneapolis-based worker center, CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha/Center of Workers United in Struggle.

Gains include more than $4.5 million in wage increases and paid time off over the life of the contract for the nearly 500 workers covered by bargaining, the union said. Retail janitors will see an average wage increase of 18 percent over 3 years, with many janitors seeing an immediate $1.50 raise.

The vast majority of the group are people of color.

“The gains won in this contract are the private sector stimulus that Trump and his billionaire cabinet promised, but workers delivered on for themselves,” the union noted in news release.

“We fought hard to get to this point, so it means so much to have won this first contract,” said Maricela Flores, a grandmother who works for Carlson Building Maintenance at the Shakopee Target and participant in the bargaining sessions.

“While working people are under attack right now from the billionaires in charge of our country, we are showing that we can win if we stick together and fight … Because we stood up and fought, and didn’t let anyone tell us we couldn’t win, we now have a contract that won big gains for our families.”

Lizbet Vega Lopez, who has been employed by Carlson to clean the Cub Foods in Brooklyn Park for 12 years, is one of the many workers seeing an immediate raise from $9.50 to $11 per hour.

“This was not an easy fight, but I am so glad we stuck together and now have a union contract that moves us forward. I hope others will see our fight and realize that no matter how difficult the challenge may be, you can win positive changes if you are willing to stand up to those in power,” said Lopez, a mother of three.

In addition to wage increases and PTO, workers also won one to three weeks vacation, depending on experience; stronger workplace protections and job security; and guidelines for workload conditions when covering absences. The contract goes into effect immediately and will last three years.



  AFSCME Local 34                         Updated 2/23/2017


Fire represents cleansing and renewal! 

Out of the ashes comes new growth, thoughts and ideas.



Local 34 Officer Nominations: The following people were nominated for Local 34 Officers at the February General Membership meeting. Final nominations will be taken at the March 1 meeting. If you might be interested in serving, please contact the Local 34 Nominations Chair – Jody Stadler (348-7371) or attend the membership meeting. Voting for any contested ballots will be done by mail beginning April 3. Questions regarding the election can be addressed to Alex Erickson (348-7304), Elections Chairperson.  

First Vice President: Grace Baltich

Recording Secretary: Open

Membership Secretary: Deb Konechne

Senior Chief Steward: Jim Edin, Kenneth Garnier

Members at Large (3): Angel Alexander, Remy Huerta-Stemper

Trustee: Open

Positions are also open for Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation Delegates (5)/Alternates (6) and St. Paul Regional Labor Federation Delegates (5)/Alternates (6).  

Chief Steward Vacancy Filled: The Local 34 Executive Board elected Brian Olson to fill the vacant Chief Steward position at our meeting on January 18, 2017.  He will fill out the term ending April 30, 2018 which was vacated by Kela Williams.  He took his oath of office immediately following the election.  Please join us as we welcome Brian to his new position in the local. Our two Chief Stewards, Tywanna Gray and Kela Williams, have both accepted positions as supervisors. Mara Ssengendo has been serving as Acting Chief Steward while Tywanna was in an acting supervisor position. The members voted to appoint Mara to step in to that position pending Tywanna’s return to her Senior HSR position. The term for this Chief Steward position ends April 30, 2017. The members attending the December 7, 2016 General Assembly voted to have Mara continue in that position through the end of that term. Note that this is one of the officer positions that will be up for election this year with nominations at the February and March General Assemblies.  

AFSCME Stands by Public Workers in Iowa: AFSCME is fighting back in Iowa against the latest attempt to silence the voices of working people and take away their ability to negotiate together for better wages and working conditions. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad last week signed a bill into law that forbids public service workers from negotiating for improvements to their benefits and working conditions. It effectively steals workers’ rights that were established more than 40 years ago. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 represents 40,000 public service workers, including law enforcement, corrections officers, mental health workers, professional school staff and others. Many of them will be affected by the new law. Council 61 filed a lawsuit Monday, alleging that the new law violates Article 1, Section 6 of the Iowa Constitution, which forbids lawmakers from granting any citizen “privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens.” The law exempts police officers and firefighters. “We are basically suing over the unconstitutionality of the law,” said Iowa Council 61 Pres. Danny Homan. “We believe the law treats public employees differently.” In a statement, AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders called the new law “a slap in the face to the hardworking women and men who provide professional public services that strengthen Iowa communities every day.” Saunders added, “We won’t give up this fight. AFSCME will continue to stand with Iowa working families and communities.” ~ Pablo Ros (2/21/2017)

AFSCME Capitol Report (2/21/2017)

Support Local Control, Stop Corporate Interference: Last week, AFSCME members left 266 voice messages asking legislators to support local control and stop corporate interference. It’s a threat to our democracy and an attack on working people. House File 600 and Senate File  580 – known as Local Interference bills – aim to repeal Minneapolis and St. Paul’s new Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinances – and to prevent other Minnesota cities from passing their own work standards.  This summer 150,000 people in our two largest cities are due to start receiving earned sick and safe time, a paid benefit, passed at the local level. It would allow them to take time off when sick or dealing with domestic abuse. The bills could also block cities from passing a higher minimum wage. We have testified to stop corporate interests from robbing workers of their paid sick leave.  Despite fierce opposition, House and Senate Republicans are moving the bills quickly.  

Fix Transportation Now: Two weeks ago, AFSCME members left 206 voice messages for their legislators urging them to fix transportation now with new revenue for roads, bridges, transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure. We reminded legislators to budget for AFSCME maintenance workers who plow snow, patch potholes and inspect bridges. AFSCME MnDOT members were also at the Capitol to support new revenue for transportation and to oppose the Republican plan to gut the general fund as a substitute for new revenue. Raiding the general fund is simply wrong.   

Pensions: The Pension Commission will meet again on Tuesday, February 21 at 5:30 pm on Room 15 of the Capitol.  Legislators will consider a MSRS proposal to increase funding and reduce benefits.  The combination of increased employer contributions, increased employee contributions, and reduced post-retirement increases is designed to lead all plans toward full funding.  AFSCME supports the MSRS reform proposal because it will guarantee that there are sufficient funds to pay promised benefits.  

Child Protection Funding: AFSCME continues to work with Representative Rena Moran on a bill for additional funding for child protection workers and for upstream services.  

Governor's Tax Proposal: AFSCME testified last week in support of the Governor's Tax Bill in the Senate Tax Committee. We emphasized support for the $20 million of new money added to the base budget for Local Government Aid and $10 million added to the base for County Program Aid. In addition, the bill expands the Working Families Credit.

  • Council 5 Offers Social Media Training: Did you know that the Council 5 Communications Department offers customized one-on-one and small group trainings to help your local make the most out of social media? The trainings are free and flexible. It’s a great way to build solidarity within your local. Email Trisha Harms to get started.

  • Member Action Teams: 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.  

  • Labor Lunches: Local 34 will continue organizing/training days with Labor Lunches for members at various worksites throughout Hennepin County. Contact Deb Konechne for dates/times/locations. The first date is tentatively set for 2/23/2017 at the Health Service Building (HSB), 525 Portland Avenue South, Mpls. Later dates will include a variety of other work locations. All members are welcome!  

  • New Employee Orientations: Local 34 will also continue with union introductions in conjunction with other AFSCME locals at New Employee Orientations. Welcome cards with information about meetings and ways to get more involved will be sent to all new members beginning in January. If you or anyone you know if interested in Organizing, NEO or the Welcoming Committee, contact Deb Konechne.  

  • Picnic Organizers Seek Donations: The AFSCME Family Picnic needs donations and volunteers. Mark your calendars for August 20, 1 to 5 p.m. If you’d like to contribute, contact Council 5 Executive Board member Duane Gatzke at 651-472-2787 or send him an email.



AFSCME Council 5advocates for excellence in public services, dignity in the workplace, and opportunity and prosperity for all workers.

AFSCME Local 34 Facebook is a closed group - Email Amanda Abell for an invite. 

AFSCME women make up close to 60% of the union’s membership.

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

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