It’s been over five years since the last increase to the federal minimum wage. If we raise the wage to $10.10, it would lift 4.6 million Americans out of poverty and would raise the wages of 28 million Americans by a total of $35 billion dollars. That means more than just a long-awaited paycheck increase — it means more people able to go to the state fair, watch their kid’s soccer game, or see a movie every once in a while.

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


AFSCME Local 34                      Updated 7/28/2014

AFSCME - A History of Fighting for Justice


Labor Sing 2014: The Twin Cities Labor Chorus leads an informal sing-along of labor songs new and old on Tuesday July 29. The second annual Labor Sing begins at 7:00  p.m. at the Minnesota AFL-CIO Labor Pavilion on the State Fairgrounds, Cooper St. and Dan Patch Avenue. The event is free and open to all. Voluntary donations will benefit the Community Services Programs at the Minneapolis and St. Paul Regional Labor Federations. 

This year we're gonna reprise the sing along format. We'll have some new songs, some old songs, some songs to listen to and some songs to sing to. Come build power and solidarity, learn a bit about the rich history of workers singing together, and have some fun! Twin Cities folk legend and union musician, Charlie Maguire, will be joining us as well. This year's concert also features a number of Pete Seeger songs (Pete died this year at 94). Hey if you're coming make sure to invite your friends!

Founded in 2009, the Labor Chorus has become a staple at area union events, from picket lines to membership parties. For information about joining or booking the Labor Chorus, e-mail

August 6, 2014 General Assembly Meeting: 1. Discuss and vote on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to approve or reject the health insurance holiday for the following pay periods: August 1, 2014; August 15, 2014 and September 12, 2014.

2. Elect delegates to attend the AFSCME Council 5 Convention to be held in Bloomington (9/11- 9/13) Council 5 officers and Executive Board officers will be elected at this onvention. Delegates will also discuss and vote on the proposed amendment to the Council 5 Constitution to raise the Counil 5 dues by $5.00 per member per month. Elect delegates to attend the Minnesota State AFL-CIO Convention held in St. Paul. If you wish to be considered for either of the two conventions and cannot attend the General Assembly, please send me an e-mail expressing your interest and for which convention. You should do so by no later than 12:00 noon on Tuesday, August 5, 2014. ~ Local 34 President Jean Diederich  

Time Capsule: AFSCME Council 5 is putting together a time capsule to celebrate Council 5's 10th anniversary! Have something you'd like included? Mail or drop off your photos, remembrances, and mementos at our South St. Paul office. We'll share collected items and unveil the time capsule at our convention in September!

Remember to Vote: Tuesday, August 12, 2014, is this year’s primary election date. There are numbers of candidates for the Governor and US Senate races in the Republican primary. The only significant statewide DFL primary contest is for State Auditor between incumbent Rebecca Otto and Matt Entenza.

Fire up the Grill! The AFSCME Family Picnic will be held on Sunday, August 17th at Battle Creek Regional Park Picnic Pavilion in Maplewood from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. This free picnic, for AFSCME members and their families, includes food, raffles, and activities for the kids with discounted waterpark rides. Volunteers are still needed to help serve food and handle the raffle. You are also asked to bring a dish to share with fellow attendees.

Volunteer with AFSCME at Minnesota State Fair! The Minnesota State Fair is being held August 21st to September 1st – volunteers are needed to work a shift at the AFSCME Council 5 kiosk in the Labor Pavilion. Shifts run 9:00 AM- 12:30 PM; 12:30 – 4:30 PM and 4:30 - 7:30 PM each day of the fair. As thanks for volunteering, you receive a t-shirt and your admission is covered by the Council. Last year, volunteers collected over 6000 post cards that was the jump start to the successfully raising the minimum wage. This year we will be building support for transportation investment that supports our jobs and expands economic opportunity and quality of life for everyone. Please contact Michael Kuchta at 651-287-0537 or at to volunteer. He is waiting to hear from you!

Congratulations! AFSCME Council 5 announced recently that we reached our goal of 2600 new membership cards signed by the time of the AFSCME International Convention -  time period was 2/2014 – 6/2014. We not only reached that goal, we exceeded it by 161 – 2761 news cards signed. You can all feel proud of your efforts to achieve that goal as Local 34 lead the Council with 190 cards signed. The time and effort that you put into talking to new employees and fee payers was well spent. Not only have we increased our membership, we have increased our visibility. Folks know who we are and where to find us in the workplace. That translates into strength and power as we continue to address worker’s issues on a daily basis. ~ Local 34 President Jean Diederich

The “Minnesota Miracle”: One old gentleman has spent the past 40 years giving of himself to make a difference in the lives around him. He’s taking on another cause that affects so many in Minnesota. Making sure that our communities have the food they need to keep their families and children nourished so they may contribute to the welfare of all Minnesotans! Gary C. Fitch retired from the United States Postal Service in March 2013 and is now devoting 1 solid year to reach out to everyone in Minnesota for their support and donations to reach a goal that will give everyone that comes on board, a “Legacy” that will be unsurpassed. This is a 300 mile walk from International Falls to the State Fairgrounds in 30 days. The walk will begin on August 2nd 2014 and end on September 1st!  The walk will end on Labor Day which will allow everyone to finish the final day from White Bear Lake to the State Fairgrounds. All of the professional athletes, politicians, Union workers and everyone in Minnesota will be invited to join hands and give evidence that Minnesota Takes care of their Own! The goal is an endowment of $30 million dollars to buy 10 million pounds of food a year. Click here for more information.

CPSW Standards Changed: Hennepin County Human Resources approved a change in the minimum qualifications for Child Protection Social Worker to recognize a Bachelor’s Degree and 10 years of experience in Child Protection on a par with a Master’s Degree and relevant experience effective 6/14/2014.

Local 34 Seniority Report: An updated Seniority Report from Hennepin County for the members of AFSCME Local 34 is now available on the Labor Relations website. Please take the time to find your job title and check out your seniority date. If you feel that your date is not correct, please send me an e-mail with your name, your employee ID number, that date on the list and why you feel it is wrong. I will compile a list and forward to Labor Relations for investigation. Any responses from Labor Relations will, in turn, be routed through me and sent back to you. Any request for review of your seniority date should be sent to me by no later than September 1, 2014. Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34 

Local 34 Executive Board Vacancies: Currently Local 34 has two vacancies to be filled on the Executive Board: One At-Large position and Senior Chief Steward. If you are interested in serving in either one of these positions, please contact Jean Diederich, AFSCME Local 34 President. The elections will take place at the August 20th Executive Board meeting to be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Health Services Building (HSB), room 917.

Hennepin County Insurance Premium Holiday: The Hennepin County Board adopted a motion to have a three pay check holiday from paying health insurance premiums – both for the employees and the employer.  

What this means is that you will have no deduction for health insurance from the pay checks for August 1, August 15 and September 12. When the recommendation was originally made, it was for a two pay check holiday. The Chair of the Board, Commissioner Mike Opat, noted that we could afford a three pay check holiday. “Over the past five years, the county's health insurance premiums have been significantly less than the industry average and have reflected a 2% total increase versus the 8% industry average.  This extraordinary accomplishment could not have been achieved without the effective partnership between the county, health plan providers, union representatives and you, the employees who participate in the county's health insurance plan.” ~ Commissioner Mike Opat

Since this is a change to our contract, the membership will need to vote to accept a Memorandum of Understanding on the insurance premium holiday. We will hold a special vote at our 8/6/14 General Assembly meeting at 5:30 p.m. in HSB 110. ~ Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34

StandDown: Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans ( MACV) is hosting the Metro StandDown on August 5th (8:00 – 5:00) and 6th (8:00 – 4:00) at the Boy Scout Base Camp at Fort Snelling. Free services available to all veterans. Meals, clothing, VA benefits, legal assistance, court, public benefits, haircuts, federal and state tax assistance, VA medical care, dental, optometry, state DMV, housing, AA/NA, employment assistance and mental health counseling. Please distribute this information to veterans who may need assistance. Go to for more information or please contact Nathaniel Saltz at 651-224-0290.  

Articles of Interest

11 Ways the ‘Schedules that Work’ Act Would Make the Lives of Working Families Better: On Tuesday, Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced the "Schedules that Work" Act to provide federal guidelines for making sure that employers offer fair, flexible and reliable schedules for working families who are often left in difficult situations because of erratic employer scheduling. Miller said the act is about "dignity" and ensuring workers can earn a decent living and meet family responsibilities.  

Members of Congress Take ‘Minimum Wage Challenge’ to Live Off Reduced Budget for a Week: Since he began his minimum wage challenge on Sunday, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, now president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has had eggs and toast, a bowl of cereal with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a banana. On Monday, he came to work with a bologna and cheese sandwich and a banana. “I’m not sure what I’m going to have for supper.”

The Bad Boss Tax: Just how much money are low-wage businesses draining from local, state and federal coffers? More than 400 organizations that advocate progressive tax reform and it is estimated that WalMart alone costs taxpayers 6.2 billion dollars annually in public assistance. Should we fine them?

Equal Pay for Women Would Mean a More Secure Retirement for All: Eliminating the wage gap is especially critical to advancing these American values. How can we fix the persisting problem of the gender pay gap?

Stadium Subsidies Financed by Pension CutsAs states and cities grapple with budget shortfalls, many are betting big on an unproven formula: Slash public employee pension benefits and public services while diverting the savings into lucrative subsidies for professional sports teams.

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