2014 Global Slavery Index

This is the second edition of the Global Slavery Index, the flagship report of the Walk Free Foundation. The Global Slavery Index estimates the number of people in modern slavery in 167 countries. It is a tool for citizens, non-government organizations, businesses and public officials to understand the size of the problem, existing responses and contributing factors, so they can build sound policies that will end modern slavery.

President's Blog November

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  AFSCME Local 34 Member News  

Established in April 1950, AFSCME Local 34 represents over 1900 Social Service employees of Hennepin County.

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

                         Updated 11/20/2014    

Organization United for Respect  

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, stand with Walmart workers who are fighting for their right to speak out without fear of retaliation.  

You can make your voice heard and show your support for Walmart workers by signing a petition to the Walton family, who owns Walmart and who has the distinction of being the richest family in America. Tell the Waltons you stand with Walmart workers and you will join a Black Friday action near you.

Workers have gone on strike and protested against the mega company for the past two Black Fridays. But this year, organizers promise an even greater turnout and quite possibly the biggest strikes ever. Employees at more than 2,100 Walmart stores across the country have signed an online petition asking for higher wages and better working conditions.

With tape symbolically strapped over their mouths, and holding signs demanding "stop the illegal threats," dozens of workers on Thursday sat down amid the cash registers and merchandise racks of a Los Angeles Walmart store, in the first such work action to target the world's biggest retailer.

Want to Stand with Walmart Workers - Black Friday Protests!

AFSCME News

Health Care Open Enrollment Begins: November 10, 2014 Ends: November 25, 2014, 4:30 p.m. Open enrollment is your opportunity to review your benefits elections, make changes, enroll in flexible spending and enroll or cancel eligible dependents in your health or dental plans. During open enrollment you can:  

  • Enroll in or change health insurance plans.

  • Enroll in the voluntary dental plan. 

  • Enroll or waive coverage for yourself or eligible family members.

  • Enroll or re-enroll in a flexible spending account (requires annual enrollment). 

  • Enroll in the vacation-PTO cash out program.

Local 34 Dues Amendment Adopted! Members attending the Local 34 General Assembly meeting last night heard the second reading of the proposed amendment to our Constitution to increase the dues from 1.0% to 1.5% effective January 1, 2015. A motion was moved and seconded  to approved that change. After some discussion, an amendment of 1.25% was made, seconded and, after further discussion, passed.  That amended the proposal to 1.25% which, after even further discussion, was approved by the members in attendance. So, there will be an increase in our dues effective 1/1/15 from 1.0 % of gross wages to 1.25% of gross wages. I would like to thank everyone who shared their comments and concerns with all of the officers and stewards over the past month. Members who attended the meeting came to address those concerns and everyone who was there was able to weigh in on the issue. Thank you to the Budget & Finance Committee, headed by Angel Alexander, for tackling this tough issue and bringing forward proposed language. ~ Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34  

Scholarship Applications Available! Applications are available for AFSCME’s Family Scholarship. The renewable, $2,000 scholarship is for current high-school seniors who will graduate in 2015. The application deadline is December 31. 

& Other Stories

Marx, Music and Mayhem Mix In Beaverdance! Looking for an alternative to traditional entertainment this holiday season? Beaverdance! could be just the ticket. Called a “Marxist holiday fur trade musical,” this production is presented by Bedlam Theatre in St. Paul from Friday, Nov. 21, to Sunday, Dec. 21. As described by Bedlam, the plot is a far cry from The Nutcracker: “Karl Marx travels back in time to study Beavers as an idealized worker collective. In their idyllic, 1804, soon-to-be-Minnesota wilderness, the Beavers are beset by Ojibwe, voyageurs and capitalists who want all the fur off their backs. Can the time-travelling political economist help the beavers organize in time? Will the local economy be revolutionized through the power of the beaver? Find out through the magic of holiday, dinner-theater, musical dialectic in Beaverdance!” Read more

Whatever Happened To Overtime? It’s one reason we’re poorer than our parents. And Obama could fix it—without Congress. If you’re in the American middle class—or what’s left of it—here’s how you probably feel. You feel like you’re struggling harder than your parents did, working longer hours than ever before, and yet falling further and further behind. The reason you feel this way is because most of you are—falling further behind, that is. Adjusted for inflation, average salaries have actually dropped since the early 1970s, while hours for full-time workers have steadily climbed. Read more

Note: In 1975, more than 65 percent of salaried workers earned time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours per week. Today, just 11 percent do.

 

“In the absence of a law requiring me to pay you overtime if you earn under a certain amount, you end up working harder—and the harder you work, the fewer employees I need. The fewer employees I need, the higher the unemployment rate. The higher the unemployment rate, the more leverage I have to “encourage” you to “do what it takes” to keep your job. And so you work even more hours, pushing unemployment up and wages down. And that, my friends, is one of the little tricks that keeps you poor and me rich.” ~ Nick Hanauer (Billionaire Venture Capitalist)

Lame-duck Congress Urged To Oppose Fast Track Trade Legislation! Unions are ramping up efforts to stop Congress and President Obama from adopting so-called “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority that would allow them to push through the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other free trade deals. Led by the Communications Workers and the Teamsters, supporters of fair trade delivered 663,674 letters, petition signatures and e-mails to congressional leaders opposing fast track and the trade pacts. Read more

Twin Cities Retail Janitors Announce Black Friday Strike Deadline! Outside a Home Depot in Richfield, Minnesota, members of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) announced a strike deadline of November 28, “Black Friday,” for retail janitors who work for cleaning companies throughout the Twin Cities area. CTUL is a low-wage worker-led organization that is fighting for fair wages, fair working conditions, and a voice in the workplace for all workers in the Twin Cities metro area. Read more  

If You Want To Change The World For Women, Read This! Before the first vote was even cast, one of the most important takeaways from this election cycle was already clear: We need more women running for office. Certainly, Tuesday’s elections resulted in some historic successes for women politicians. For the first time in history, the U.S. Congress is projected to reach 101 women, including the first women Senators from Iowa and West Virginia. Read more

Unions Are Among The Very Few Interest Groups that Represent The Middle Class! Buried deep inside Princeton University political scientist Martin Gilens’ research highlighting the excessive influence the rich have on modern U.S. politics, there is a hidden gem exploring which interest groups best represent the priorities of the middle class. Gilens found that, while most powerful interest groups advocate for policies that predominately benefit their narrowly defined members, relatively few focus on policies that the middle class supports. According to Gilens, most of these middle-class oriented groups are unions, which is a big problem for the United States, as unions have been declining in membership and losing power for decades. Read more

ATT Denies Sick Time Pay To Older Employees! Over the lunch hour Wednesday, a large crowd, including over fifty members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), rallied outside the AT&T Tower in downtown Minneapolis calling on the corporation to stop denying sick leave benefits to its longest-serving employees. More than ten senior-tenured AT&T employees have been denied compensation for sick time used to care for relatives, including spouses and parents, a benefit now mandated by Minnesota state law under statute 181.9413. Read more

Is That Beer Union-Made? Did you know that Goose Island is a union-made beer? How about Mickey’s Malt? If you’re a union member, you probably know that Budweiser, Bud Light and Miller Lite are union-made; however, there’s plenty more on the union-made beer list than meets the IPA. Next time you are out shopping for beer, just text BEER to 22555, and the prompt will tell you whether or not the beer is union-made. Just make sure to spell out the complete beer name (and make sure it's spelled correctly). If all else fails, you can always refer to the complete union-made beer list by clicking here.  

ALEC Fueled Supreme Court Challenge To Obama Health Law! Healthcare for millions of Americans is at stake in the latest Affordable Care Act challenge to reach the U.S. Supreme Court -- and if the Court sides with the challengers, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other Koch-funded groups will have laid the groundwork for the healthcare law's destruction. On November 7, the Court granted review of the case King v. Burwell, which argues that the ACA should be read as prohibiting insurance premium subsidies for low-income citizens in states that refused to set up their own online healthcare exchanges. Read more

Note: The embattled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) lost nearly 20 percent in grant revenue between 2012 and 2013 according to new tax filings, reflecting the financial hit that the "corporate bill mill" has suffered as it has been dragged into the sunlight and its corporate members have fled.

The Stories Of These Families Need To Be Told! In exclusive photos and their own words, 15 Southern couples and families shared with us their dreams for their families and their hopes for the freedom to marry in their home states. Together these words and images tell a powerful story of love, family and a commitment to winning marriage in the American South. See their portraits, and read their stories -- then add your voice to say that you'll fight alongside them, until every American in every state has the freedom to marry. Explore.

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