Untold Stories Labor History series begins April 22nd

The 2014 Untold Stories series focuses on the struggles facing workers in the past – and how they influence the issues of today. This year’s theme is “Memory and Place.” All events are free and open to the public.  

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







AFSCME LOCAL 34               4/23/2014

 On April 28, AFSCME and the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe workplaces. 

The shirt on your back

It's almost a year since Bangladesh's Rana Plaza clothing factory collapsed (April 24), killing 1138 people. To mark the event, the Guardian has released a powerful interactive exploring life in Dhaka's factories and the journeys our clothes make from factories to shop floors. The Shirt On Your Back: the human cost of the Bangladeshi garment industry combines compelling video footage with photography, infographics and written editorial. It's a thought-provoking look at both the impact of the fast fashion industry, and the tragic events that took place on April 24 last year. The interactive is divided into six sections: it opens with a video showing the frantic pace of daily life in Dhaka and goes on to introduce three factory workers who survived the collapse. Editorial and infographics also explain the growing demand for cheap labour that has led to hundreds of factories being built illegally or without planning permission and the daily pressures factory workers face.

Full-screen video footage of the collapse includes some harrowing scenes of bodies being pulled from the wreckage, interspersed with survivors' accounts of searching for their friends and family. At each stage of the feature, viewers are reminded how little a factory worker has earned, and how much retailers have made, in the time they have been reading. The piece ends with a look at the aftermath of the collapse and international reactions to it, as well as how survivors' lives have changed since.

It's a moving interactive. Watch the full piece for yourself here.

Editor’s Note: While attending the Labor Notes Conference in Chicago recently, I had a chance to meet and listen to two women from Bangladesh: Aleya Akter (left), a labor organizer from the Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation and Aklima Khanam (middle), a Rana Plaza survivor. They are pictured above at another event with Saurav Sarkar (right) representing the United Students Against Sweatshops. They were calling on Children's Place and WalMart in Secaucus to pay full and fair compensation to the injured workers and families of the deceased. In Chicago, I listened (through an interpreter) to their own personal stories of struggle and survival. Their primary message was that we continue to help them in their fight for not only safer working conditions but better pay and benefits for all workers in these factories. Akter also urged audience members to do what they can to pass the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, an agreement requiring brands to ensure they are working with factories that provide safe working conditions in Bangladesh.  

What can you do to help: Remember some of these people when you go to the mall to get some new pants. Last April 24, Ismail Ferdous photographed the deadliest disaster in garment industry history.

You can also consider making a tax-deductible contribution to the Bangladesh Worker Rights Defense Fund which will support Bangladesh garment organizers and worker activists as they help workers who toil in unsafe factories for unfair - or unpaid - wages and who, without a union, cannot exercise their rights. Click here to read more. (AFL/CIO) You can also get additional information about what's happening in Bangladesh by visiting The Solidarity Center website.

 ACTION - Tell Legislators to fund DHS - ACTION 

Governor Mark Dayton’s supplemental budget adds $11 million a year for the Department of Human Services (DHS). His recommendation pays for negotiated salary increases for staff at 24-hour care facilities within State Operated Services and the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. However, neither the House nor Senate has this salary supplement in its budget bill. Without the money, DHS says it will lay off 218 workers and close facilities.

What you can do: Tell legislative leaders and conference committee members why the salary supplement must be in their budgets. To find out which legislators to call, go to Council 5’s website.

ACTION - Women’s economic security act - ACTION 

The Women's Economic Security Act will be heard on the Senate floor Wednesday morning. That means your Senator needs to hear from you. Click here to find out which Senator represents you.

What you can do: Ask them to VOTE YES on the Women's Economic Security Act so all Minnesotans will have equal opportunities to succeed. It is legislation that's good for Minnesota and has real bipartisan support. The Senate goes into session at 9:00 AM, and WESA has been placed on Special Orders for the day.  

One day after the legislature recognized National Pay Equity Day, the House passed the “Women’s Economic Security Act”, a package of proposals aimed at reducing the pay gap, expanding protections for women in the workplace and encouraging women to enter non-traditional, higher-paying jobs, on a 106-24 vote. Also known as WESA, one of many things the bill would provide are ways to bring women into higher wage, higher-impact careers, or jobs that are dubbed “traditionally male.” “This is about economic security for working families and lifting women out of poverty,” said Representative Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing), who sponsored the bill in the House. “This bill will strengthen the workplace for all workers.” 

The vote two weeks ago in the House showed incredible bipartisan support, which made for a wide margin of victory. To show our legislators how much we appreciate their support, please call or send emails to everyone who voted for WESA (especially if one them is your legislator).  Don't forget to mention that we hope that they'll continue to support the bill when it comes back to the House for final passage.  

RALLY - U.S. mail is not for sale - RALLY

The US Postal Service is privatizing a portion of the postal service to Staples. The American Postal workers Union (APWU) is holding a rally from 4:00 - 6:00 on April 24th outside the Staples in the Har-Mar Mall (2100 N Snelling Ave, Roseville).  Please share with your friends, c0-workers and neighbors and encourage people to attend and help our fellow public employees fight this privatization.  

Corporate privatizers are salivating at the postal service’s $65 billion annual revenue. It’s part of the war on the public good, a drive to smash public worker unions while privatizing services that belong to the people. In October, the USPS announced a no-bid, sweetheart deal to open postal counters in more than 80 Staples stores. The Staples postal counters are less secure than public post offices and they are staffed with low-wage Staples employees. The U.S. Postal Service and Staples plan to expand this “pilot” project to 1,500 Staples locations nationwide, while the USPS eliminates public post offices. 

MARCH - International worker's day march - MARCH

May 1st International Workers Day March in Saint Paul has been endorsed by AFSCME Local 34. This year we will march on Thursday, May 1 at 3:00 pm in Saint Paul. We’ll gather in front of the Governor’s Mansion and march to the State Capitol for a rally. We’ll send Governor Dayton and the State Legislature a message that immigrants in Minnesota need equal rights, starting with the ability to get a driver’s license. We’ll also stand up for a livable wage for all workers, for an end to deportations and the separation of immigrant families, and for immigration reform.  

We think it’s more important than ever to demonstrate the unity of workers of all races and nationalities, unionized and non-unionized workers, people of all genders, all united. Please RSVP and share the event on facebook to help spread the word.  


The “Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive” is scheduled for Saturday, May 10, 2014. You can help the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) be part of the solution just by leaving a bag of non-perishable food items by your mailbox! This year marks the 22nd year of the NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) “Stamp Out Hunger” national food drive. Last year’s food drive provided more than 950,000 meals for those in need in our community. In 22 years, this food drive has become the nation’s largest food drive, with more than 1.3 billion pounds of food delivered to 10,000 communities to help those in need. Want to help? Simply place non-perishable, non-breakable food items near your mail box for your letter carrier to pick up on Saturday, May 10. The earlier you start saving, the more generous you can be!




Education, Engagement and Outreach: The EEO is a group of organizers that educates and engages our membership into action. They hold outreach activities and actions to build the labor movement. Our next meeting is 5/12/14, HSB, Room 917, 525 Portland Avenue, from 5:30 - 7:30 pm. We will finish planning our informational lunch session about the contract, talk more about organizing, and go over our goals/mission for this year. Please be sure to RSVP if you are already a member of this committee. Please contact Heather Hemmer at heatherh_87@yahoo.com with any questions or to join this committee and be added to the EEO mailing list.   

AFSCME International Convention (July 13-18, 2014): Local 34 voted to send President Diederich and one additional Local 34 delegate to the International Convention in Chicago. Note that the President is an automatic delegate so one more member will be elected at the May 7th General Assembly meeting  (HSB, Room L15).

Netroots Nation (July 17-20, 2014): Local 34 voted to send two people to Netroots Nation in Detroit. The attendees will be elected at the May 7th General Assembly meeting. Netroots nation is an event for bloggers, newsmakers, social justice advocates, labor and organizational leaders, grassroots organizers and online activists to come together to make new connections, hone their organizing skills, share best practices and build stronger relationships with others working on the issues they care most about.

May General Assembly: There will be food at the May 7th General Assembly meeting as the local honors its retiring officers and stewards and celebrates its 2014-2015 Executive Board members and stewards.]

Worker's Memorial Day is Monday, April 28th.  

May Labor Movie Night will feature “Morristown: In the Air and Sun”, May 16th, 7:00 p.m. Morristown is a documentary about workers in east Tennessee, interior Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, who speak about their lives, work, disappointments and hope. Movie Night is held in Room 356, United Labor Center, 312 Central Avenue S.E. and is sponsored by AFSCME Locals 3800, 2822, 34, 1164 and AFSCME Council 5 Next Wave. Snacks, beer and soda are available during the movie – donations are accepted and appreciated.   

May Labor Movie Night will feature “Morristown: In the Air and Sun”, May 16th, 7:00 p.m. Morristown is a documentary about workers in east Tennessee, interior Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, who speak about their lives, work, disappointments and hope. Movie Night is held in Room 356, United Labor Center, 312 Central Ave SE and is sponsored by AFSCME Locals 3800, 2822, 34, 1164 and AFSCME Council 5 Next Wave. Snacks, beer and soda are available during the movie – donations are accepted and appreciated.  

Minnesota AFSCME partners with autism society to improve children’s lives: Child care providers are in a unique position to identify the signs of autism in a young child - that’s why AFSCME’s Child Care Providers Together (CCPT) in Minnesota joined hands with the Autism Society to launch a pilot program that is the first step toward offering affordable autism training and certification to providers across the state. Click here to read the full article.

For Delta Dental questions please contact Deb Cassidy (AFSCME Council 5) at 651-287-0508 or Deb.cassidy@afscmemn.org . 

Congratulations to Molly Malecki (former AFSCME 2822 President, current Vice President and Newsletter Editor) on her pending retirement.

AFSCME Council 5’s 10th Anniversary Convention will be held September 11-13, 2014 in in Bloomington.

Labor-Management Health Care Committee: The County’s Self-Insurance reserves continue to amass, having risen to $45 million, although soon the income flow may change as 57% of county employees entered into the Advantage Plan.

Council 5 Scholarship Reminders: Deadline to apply is May 2, 2014.

  • Richard E. Patterson Scholarship for children of Council 5 members.

  • Clarence J. Moss Scholar-ship for children of Council 5 members (500 word essay required).

  • Robert Norberg Scholar-ship for adult members of Council 5 to further their education.

Hennepin County District 3 Special Election Primary - Get to Know the Candidates: This spring voters in Hennepin County District 3 will go to the polls and vote in a special election to fill the Hennepin County Commissioner position that was previously held by Gail Dorfman. Dorfman recently resigned to be-come the Executive Director of St. Stephens Human Services. There are four candidates – Ben Schweigert, Ken Kelash, Marion Greene and Anne Mavity - running for the seat, which means there will be a Primary on Tuesday, April 29th. The special election will be on Tuesday, May 13th. AFSCME Council 5 is endorsing Local 2938 member Ben Schweigert in the special District 3 election to replace Gail Dorfman on the Hennepin County Board. The district covers St. Louis Park, downtown Minneapolis, and Minneapolis neighborhoods roughly south of I-94 and west of I-35W. Voting: The primary is Tuesday April 29. Polls are open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. You can vote absentee at the Hennepin County Government Center, Minneapolis City Hall, and St. Louis Park City Hall through April 25 during regular office hours; on Saturday April 26 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; and on Monday April 28 until 5 p.m.

Applications Open for the Minnesota Union Leadership Program: Through six in-depth sessions scheduled over nine months, (September-May) participants study the labor movement and discuss how to address the challenges facing unions today. This program provides the opportunity for emerging and established union leaders to build relationships and network with others. It draws on the diversity of the labor movement and uses a participatory approach to learn from other’s experiences. Participants include union activists, workplace stewards, elected officers and staff. Training is coordinated and led by Labor Education Service staff and draws on experienced and talented speakers from the labor movement and allies in the community. The program is non-credit, but each participant receives a leadership certificate upon successful completion. Local 34 had an agreement to cover costs for its members who are selected to attend. Contact Jean Diederich, Local 34 President, to indicate your interest prior to registering. The registration deadline is May 23, 2014.

A new tool for locals: We’ve added a new feature to our Council 5 website: chat rooms! This is a great opportunity for members of locals who don’t have a chance to meet regularly. Chats can be scheduled on an as-needed or ongoing basis. Because the feature is built into our website, you don’t have to register for any outside services. It’s a great, secure way to stay in touch with your colleagues and field representatives. Contact Trisha Harms at 651-287-0558 or by email to learn more or to schedule a chat for your local. ~ AFSCME Council 5

Retirees hope you join the fun: Your chance to support retiree activism takes place May 3 when the Minnesota AFL-CIO State Retiree Council holds its annual Fun(d)Raiser. The all-ages event features free admission, free food, free parking, plus music, games, raffles, a silent auction, and more. The council uses proceeds to educate union retirees about policy issues and political action. Details: The Fun(d)Raiser runs from 2-6 p.m. Saturday May 3 at the hall of Sheet Metal Workers Local 10, 1681 Cope Ave., Maplewood. 

AFL-CIO seeks standout volunteers: The Minnesota AFL-CIO is accepting nominations of labor groups, individual union members, and youth in union families who have made unique contributions to their communities through volunteer service.  Details: For specifics on each award, see the Minnesota AFL-CIO’s website. Nominations must be submitted by May 30.

Learning, inspiring, and transforming together

This year's Midwest School for Women Workers will be held at the Illini Union on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from Sunday, June 22 to Thursday, June 26, 2014. The school provides high-quality education in key leadership and representation skills along with opportunities for women workers to learn from one another and build solidarity. The theme this year is: Growing Our Power - Learning, Inspiring, and Transforming Together.

For almost 30 years, union Women’s Summer Schools across the United States have brought together women from all sectors of the labor movement to develop skills as activist union members and leaders, build sisterhood across unions and regions, make new friends, and try out new ideas. The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) coordinates the Summer Schools, which are hosted by labor educators and activists associated with different universities each year. The week-long, residential schools give participants the opportunity for real learning away from the day-to-day distractions of their busy activist lives. It also allows them to really get to know each other and work together, forging lasting relationships that ultimately build the power of the labor movement. In a time when many local, regional and international unions have fewer resources to devote to labor education and leadership development, the Women’s Summer Schools fill the gap for hundreds of union women each summer.

Have a great day and thank you for visiting our union's website!