work for Free!
Angel Gardner-Kocher (AFSCME Local 2822 Steward)
all been there. You’re on your break and a patron, customer,
or a coworker has a question that needs your expertise. You
have a million things on your to-do list, but with staff being
so stretched thin at work, you can’t seem to find the time
to get it all done, so you eat lunch at your desk while you
chip away at the tasks. The pressure to provide excellent
service to the residents of Hennepin County, be a team player
and manage all of the “other duties as assigned” is
getting harder and harder as our staffing levels drop or
remain stagnant and our workload increases.
Hennepin County Library, while vacancies are no longer being
held, they are not being filled quickly, nor does staffing
meet the demands of library operations. Director Lois Langer
Thompson reported that over the last five years, HCL has
decreased FTE by 57, while increasing service hours and square
footage. Last year, the library expanded the hours by over
10,000 hours a year without increasing staff.
As a result, many library workers spend more hours on
public service desks and have less time to complete the other
tasks that are part of their job description.
At meetings and trainings, innovation and creativity
are encouraged, but our current workload and staffing leave us
without enough time to do the things that make our jobs
meaningful and connect to the communities we serve.
trend is not isolated to only libraries, or Local 2822
workers, but persists across all job classes at Hennepin
County. The Education, Engagement and Outreach Committee has
heard from various departments that employees feel the
pressure to work through breaks, come in early and/or stay
late an bring work home with them. This creates unrealistic
expectations for our successors and peers at our jobs and
disrupts our work-life balance.
In many departments, working for free has become a
norm, if not an expectation. If it is indeed an expectation in
your department and you are not an exempt employee, then it is
wage theft. If it is a norm for you, I challenge you to let it
go. Leave work at work. If you can’t resist working on your
break, leave your desk, or better yet, leave the building.
Your productivity actually goes up when you take breaks and
maintaining a healthy work-life balance means less
susceptibility to stress-related illnesses. For an employee
working an 8 hour day, you have the right to two 15-minute
rest periods and a full 30-60 minute unpaid lunch under the
union contract. Make sure you and your coworkers are taking
them regularly. Union members fought hard and lives were
sacrificed for the 8 hour work day. Let’s not reverse the
gains that they made.
Education, Engagement, and Outreach Committee is collecting
information on how often employees work for free. We are
distributing electronic time card worksheets to those who are
interested in documenting how much time they actually work per
pay period. If you are interested in participating, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
in April 1950, AFSCME Local 34 represents over
1900 Social Service employees of Hennepin County.
You Know Your Union-Made Gifts?
We All Benefit From Unions
advocate for excellence in public services, dignity in the
workplace, and opportunity and prosperity for all
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summer of 2000 with support from Minnesota's labor
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in the United States.
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AFSCME - Promoting
excellence in public services, dignity in the workplace with opportunity
and prosperity for all!
Local 34, P.O. Box 15222, Commerce Station, Mpls., Mn. 55415
labor movement did not diminish the strength of the nation but
enlarged it. By raising the living standards of millions, labor
miraculously created a market for industry and lifted the whole
nation to undreamed of levels of production. Those who attack
labor forget these simple truths, but history remembers
them." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fires Minimum Wage Activist! Delta
Airlines fired 26-year employee Kip Hedges for speaking out
publicly in support of a $15 minimum wage for workers at
Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. Delta claims
Hedges made “disparaging” remarks about the company when
he said “close to half” of Delta workers at MSP make less
than $15. Hedges, a baggage handler, was an activist in the
Machinists Union before Delta bought out Northwest Airlines
and busted the union. Urge Delta and the Metropolitan Airports
Commission to reinstate Hedges and to stop intimidating
the online petition.
Quarterly Steward Meeting dates! January 12th, April 13th,
July 13th and October 12th.
Deadline is December 31! Wednesday
Dec. 31 is the deadline to apply for AFSCME’s Family
renewable, $2,000 scholarships are for current high-school
seniors who will graduate in 2015. Application materials and
full eligibility requirements are available online.
Day of Non-Spending! Coming
up on December 16th, the Association of Benefit Administrators
is promoting a National Day of Non-Spending. On this day, they
are asking that individuals not go out and spend money, and
spread the word to others in hopes of sending the message to
corporate America that we demand change. By unifying together
in this effort, the message can be sent that we as
American’s are tired of the way workers are being treated,
and demand a better life and better wages from big corporate
businesses. To find out more about the National Day of
Labor Movie Night ("Antz"): December
6 p.m., Room 356, Minneapolis (United Labor
by AFSCME Local 3800, AFSCME Council 5 Next
Wave, AFSCME Local 2822, Local 34, & Local
11 - 22: Add
This to Your Yule Log! St.
Paul’s Bedlam Theater gives holiday musicals a
zany twist with “Beaverdance,” running
through December 21. As Bedlam describes it,
Karl Marx impersonates Santa Claus and travels
back in time to study beavers as an idyllic
worker collective in the not-yet-Minnesota
wilderness of 1804. The question is: Can he
organize them in time to stop the voyageurs,
Ojibwe, and capitalists who are after their
hides? Details: “Beaverdance” takes the
stage at 7 p.m. on November 28, 29, and 30, and on
December 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20,
and 21. Tickets are $18 for the show, or $35 for
a dinner package that includes a four-course,
Minnesota menu. Group discounts are available. Full
is available online.
Applications Available! Applications
are available for AFSCME’s Family
The renewable, $2,000 scholarship is for current
high-school seniors who will graduate in 2015.
The application deadline is December
Something to Tweet About! Interested in
maximizing your social media skills? Then sign
up for Council 5’s Social Media Workshop. The
hands-on training will show you how to get the
most out of Facebook and Twitter to strengthen
our union. Details: The free workshop is Friday
January 23, 2015, from 1-4 p.m., at Council
5’s South St. Paul office. There
would be a limit of 2 spots per local
union. Local 34 will select our representatives
at our General Membership meeting on 1/7/2015.
Down More Barriers! A Women’s Economic
Security Summit takes place Thursday January 29
in St. Paul. Following the successful passage of
the 2014 Women's Economic Security Act, the
summit will discuss additional policies and
actions necessary to break down barriers to
work-family balance and economic security for
women in Minnesota. The summit runs 8 a.m.-noon
January 29 at the Kelly Inn, 161 St. Anthony
Ave. Admission is free, but space is limited.
1. The next
meeting of the Education, Engagement and Outreach (EEO)
Committee will be held on January 12, 2015 from 5:30 to 7:00 pm
at Health Services Building, Room 111.
2. The next
Labor Lunch wilol be held on March 12, 2015, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm.
Location is TBD.
Sick Leave: It’s Catching! How many workers in our
nation benefit from paid sick leave? According to the Bureau
of Labor Statistics, only 61 percent of all workers in the
private sector do. That’s appalling but not surprising.
It’s just another consequence of the assault on
unions by corporations and political extremists.
Declining union membership means nearly four out of 10
private-sector workers come to work sick – or don’t get
paid. The picture is noticeably different for state and local
government workers, where union membership is stronger. For
decades, AFSCME helped raise workplace standards for all
public service workers. Today, nine out of 10 workers in state
and local government receive paid sick leave and, of those who
belong to a union, it’s nearly everyone – 97 percent.
Employees shouldn’t have to risk their health to do their
jobs. A healthy employee is a productive one. That attitude
appears to be catching.
prolonged debate, $1.1 trillion spending bill clears Senate!
The bill’s passage in a rare weekend session eliminates the
threat of a government shutdown and came after days of
acrimonious debate on Capitol Hill over the omnibus agreement.
The Senate approved a sweeping $1.1 trillion
spending bill Saturday night to fund most of the federal
government through the next fiscal year. A small group of
conservatives, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), had tried to
block debate on the bill by raising concerns with Obama’s
immigration policy, forcing a marathon weekend session. The
move infuriated their colleagues, particularly Republicans who
complained that forcing senators to stay in session produced
nothing positive for the GOP and only helped Democrats in
their bid to approve a final batch of Obama’s nominees for
government posts. Read
up and work: The question of free speech on the job! "Discussing
political views is not advisable." This 1905 rule for
Iowa teachers apparently also applies to Delta Air Lines
workers in 2014. The Story County, Iowa, teaching contract was
explicit in saying teachers should not talk politics — or
loiter in ice cream parlors, play cards, dance, or indulge in
"undue use of cosmetics." While the code of conduct
for teachers seems antiquated and laughable, the continuing
right of employers to control workers' speech and conduct, on
and off the job, is no laughing matter.
Expects $1 Billion Surplus! Minnesota’s string of good
economic news continued Dec. 4, with state economists
projecting a budget surplus of $1.037 billion. The anticipated
surplus means there will be no need to cut jobs or state
services. Instead, the surplus means money actually will be
available to meet priorities when legislators convene in
January. Minnesota Management and Budget expects a $556
million surplus in the current budget, which ends June 30.
That is $528 million more than anticipated when the
Legislature adjourned in May. The
bigger surplus is the result of lower-than-expected spending
and higher-than-expected revenue – primarily from income and
sales taxes. By law, a third of this surplus will be placed in
reserves as a rainy-day fund. MMB also projects an additional
surplus of $637 million for the 2016-2017 budget, based on
current revenue and spending patterns. Combined with this
year’s balance, MMB anticipates a total surplus of $1.037
billion for the next two-year budget. That’s despite
inflation and the belief that U.S. economic growth will not be
as robust as it has been. MMB will release an updated forecast
in late February. That forecast will provide the final numbers
that Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature work with as they
craft their revenue and spending plans for 2016-2017. ~ AFSCME
House Passes Bill that
Provides Retroactive, Mostly Business Tax Breaks! The
House voted 378 to 46, with overwhelming bipartisan support,
to approve a one year, retroactive package of “tax
bill (H.R. 5771) would extend more than 50 different tax
provisions that expired at the end of 2013 from January 1,
2014 to December 31, 2014.
The overall package costs $44.7 billion in lost tax
revenues (over 10 years), which would increase the federal
debt significantly. AFSCME supports closing other federal
corporate tax loopholes to offset these lost revenues.
Nearly all of the tax provisions and the overall cost
are from granting tax breaks to businesses, including research
and development and “bonus depreciation” credits.
AFSCME strongly opposes many of these business tax
breaks because they are bad policy and costly.
For example, the rule that allows multinational
corporations to defer paying taxes on income earned overseas
is one of the reasons General Electric paid, on average, only
a 1.8% effective U.S. federal tax rate over 10 years.
AFSCME supports some of the tax extenders for
individuals, including the federal tax deduction for state and
local sales tax; the federal tax exclusion for
employer-sponsored mass transit commuter benefits, and the
federal tax exclusion for mortgage debt forgiveness. While
House GOP leaders preferred a more costly package, last week
the White House threatened to veto a larger $400 billion bill,
which included several outrageously expensive permanent tax
breaks for businesses. The White House was concerned about the
enormous cost. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said: "An
extender package that makes permanent expiring business
provisions without addressing tax credits for working families
is the wrong approach, at the expense of middle-class
families." House GOP leaders promoted the shorter
one-year bill in response to this veto threat. ~ AFSCME
Attacks Have Begun
on President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration
Reform! Barely waiting for the ink to dry on President
Obama’s executive actions on immigration reform that he
signed on November 20, this week the House passed a bill that
would negate his actions, and 18 states filed a lawsuit
challenging them. The
“Preventing Executive Overreach on Immigration Act of
2014” (H.R. 5759), sponsored by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), passed
on a largely party-line vote of 219 to 197.
Only three Democrats voted in favor – Reps. Collin
Peterson (MN), John Barrow (GA) and Mike McIntyre (NC).
Seven House GOP members voted against the bill.
H.R. 5759 has no chance of becoming law because Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) vowed he will not take up
this bill, and President Obama would veto it if it came across
his desk. It is
evident that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) allowed this
purely symbolic vote to give his tea party wing an opportunity
to vent their anti-reform sentiments.
As AFSCME explained in our letter (view letter on
AFSCME’s website) that urged House members to vote against
H.R. 5759, President Obama’s actions were fully within his
constitutional executive powers, and our economy and all
workers would suffer if the President was prohibited from
using prosecutorial discretion in carrying out our country’s
immigration laws. The lawsuit challenging President Obama’s
immigration reform executive actions is led by Texas Attorney
General Greg Abbott on behalf of Alabama, Georgia, Idaho,
Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana,
Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas,
Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
It is debatable within legal circles whether states
have the right, or “standing,” to bring this lawsuit.
A federal district court judge dismissed an earlier
lawsuit brought by the state of Mississippi that challenged
President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
(DACA) program in 2012. That
case has been appealed and could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
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