"True freedom is education, and voting is true citizenship. We must pick up the challenge that our ancestors have handed to us. Voting must become synonymous with citizenship, and educating our children about their history, must become synonymous with freedom." ~ Dr. Josie Johnson (Minnesota Civil Rights Leader) "

This month marks the 49th anniversary of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, a law signed by Pres. Lyndon Johnson that was intended to enforce the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees all citizens the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” But that law has been undermined during the last several years by extremist governors, right-wing legislatures and the U.S. Supreme Court, making the promise of the Voting Rights Act just that – a promise without sufficient legal guarantees.

If your boss tramples on your right to organize in the workplace, Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) believes you should be able to sue for damages in federal court. He introduced a bill in Congress that would grant you that very right.  "Union busters are on the march and are aggressive," Ellison, a co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I think the [legal] options that are offered by the current process are not adequate." As he explained it, Ellison's plan would amend the National Labor Relations Act to make labor organizing something akin to a federal civil right.

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

AFSCME Local 34                      Updated 8/19/2014

 

AFSCME News!

Local 34 Executive Board Vacancies! This is the final reminder that we will  hold a special election at the 8/20/14 Local Executive Board meeting for 2 positions:

Senior Chief Steward -   serve now through April 30,  2016

Member-at-Large – serve now through April 30, 2015  

Candidates must be dues paying members for one full calendar year as of August 1, 2014. If you are interested in putting your name forward for either position – or would like to know what the job entails – please contact me immediately. Any interested candidates should plan to attend the Executive Board meeting held in Room 917, HSB (Health Services Building), 525 Portland Ave (corner of 6th St and Portland Ave). The meeting begins at 5:30 PM. ~ Jean Diederich, AFSCME Local 34 President

Visit Us at the State Fair! Want a state that commits to transportation we can count on – a network that protects our jobs and provides opportunity and mobility for more residents? Then visit the AFSCME kiosk at the State Fair. More than 100 Council 5 members and retirees are volunteering to collect post cards that urge legislators to do what it takes to make transportation work better for everyone. Details: We’re at the Minnesota AFL-CIO Labor Pavilion, at the corner of Dan Patch and Cooper St. (that’s on the east end of the Fairgrounds). We’ll be there most days from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. The Fair runs from Thursday August 21 until Labor Day (September 1). While you’re there: Check out the Labor Pavilion’s entire line-up of unions, education, and music. ~ AFSCME Council 5

Announcement! September has always felt like the beginning of a new year to me. I think it is because that is when school starts and summer is coming to an end. As I write my column, it is only the middle of August and all ready the days are getting noticeably shorter. So this is the beginning of a new year for me. This will be the last September that I am an employee of Hennepin County and the last September as one of Local 34’s Vice Presidents. I am retiring May 31, 2015. Nominations for Vice President will open I believe in February with the election being held in April. I have very much enjoyed the support I have had from our members to do this work. It is rarely easy but often fulfilling. I would like to take the next months to talk with people who think that they might want to be one of Local 34’s Vice Presidents. Please contact me if you would like my perspective on the work ahead. ~ Vicki Moore, AFSCME Local 34 Vice-President

How America’s Largest Worker Owned Co-Op Lifts People Out of Poverty! Before Zaida Ramos joined Cooperative Home Care Associates, she was raising her daughter on public assistance, shuttling between dead-end office jobs, and not making ends meet. “I earned in a week what my family spent in a day,” she recalled.  

After 17 years as a home health aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), the largest worker-owned co-op in the United States, Ramos recently celebrated her daughter’s college graduation. She’s paying half of her son’s tuition at a Catholic school, and she’s a worker-owner in a business where she enjoys flexible hours, steady earnings, health and dental insurance, plus an annual share in the profits. She’s not rich, she says, “but I’m financially independent. I belong to a union, and I have a chance to make a difference.” Read more

AFSCME Raises Eyebrows with Anti-Johnson Tweet Comparing Walker's Wisconsin to Hell! A day after Jeff Johnson won the MNGOP gubernatorial primary, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) came out swinging.

You see, during a speech to the Southwest Metro Tea Party earlier this year, Johnson vowed to 
"
go all Scott Walker on Minnesota" if he's elected. And AFSCME doesn't much care for what Scott Walker has done in Wisconsin.

So here's a tweet AFSCME was paying to promote Wednesday afternoon:

It raised the eyebrows of Star Tribune political reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger: We got in touch with Jennifer Munt, AFSCME Council 5 public affairs director, and asked about the thought process behind that promoted tweet.

"AFSCME thinks Jeff Johnson is wrong for Minnesota workers," Munt tells us. "He promised the tea party he'd go all Scott Walker on Minnesota, and we want to make sure Jeff Johnson doesn't take the Scott Walker path down the road to ruin."

Munt says AFSCME, which is the largest public sector employee union in the state, spent about $1 million helping out Mark Dayton during his gubernatorial campaign in 2010, and the number should be similar again this year.

That money comes from member contributions made to AFSCME's political arm, Munt says, adding that about 75 percent of the union's 43,000 members voted for its endorsed candidate last time around.

"I think it's fair to describe AFSCME as one of the largest and most politically active unions," Munt says.

And the union's political activities go beyond the gubernatorial race.

"We are involved at every level of government because we elect our bosses," Munt says, adding that the union is currently paying to run the controversial 
"
personally offensive" Stewart Mills ad on TV.

We asked Munt if AFSCME has ever endorsed any Republicans.

"For us, it doesn't matter if they're Democrans or Republicats, it matters if they are pro-worker or not," Munt replies, adding that AFSCME has in the past supported Randy Johnson, who, like Jeff Johnson, is a Republican serving on the Hennepin County Board.

'Personally Offensive Tour' Holds Multi-millionaire Stewart Mills III Accountable for Billionaire Benefactors! On Wednesday, residents of the 8th Congressional District stood outside the shuttered Georgia Pacific plant in Duluth, to hold Stewart Mills III accountable for his comments that he finds it "personally offensive" for multi-millionaires like himself to pay their fair share. The event kicked off the "Personally Offensive Tour," where everyday Minnesotans will share what they find "offensive" about multi-millionaire Mills running for Congress while opposing policies that would help strengthen and protect middle-class families. The second stop of the tour took place Thursday in Brainerd with local residents in front of City Hall. The event was held prior to a fundraiser in Nisswa for Mills. It was attended by U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner and others who don't believe millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share. 

Iron Rangers' Fury Boils Over McFadden's Support for Chinese Steel! On Friday, Iron Range leaders sounded off on investment banker Mike McFadden's pro-Chinese steel stance to make sure Minnesotans know that, if elected, McFadden would continue to put the interests of corporate shareholders over working families. McFadden's preference to build the entire Keystone XL pipeline out of Chinese Steel, if it were cheaper than American steel, would undercut an American industry that supports thousands of jobs in Minnesota. 

"If investment banker Mike McFadden thinks he can come up here and sell snake oil to Iron Range voters about how he supports mining and then turn around and say he'd rather use cheap Chinese steel, well, he's got another thing coming," said State Representative Metsa. "Mike McFadden sent a loud and clear message to Iron Range families that he will not stand up for them in the Senate - not on jobs, not on American steel and not on the issues that matter to middle-class families," said State Representative Melin.

Elsewhere In the News

John Boehner’s Kabuki Dance! If John Boehner is so worried about the president’s executive orders, why didn’t he sue George W. Bush?What a hoot to see House Speaker John Boehner up on his hind legs, braying like a goofy mule as he declares that by golly he’s filing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama for “aggressive unilateralism.” Or, was it unilateral aggressivism?

Whatever.

The Ohio Republican says it’s an outrage that a president would issue executive orders to set policy without the approval of Congress — at least on things that Boehner doesn’t approve of.

“Everywhere I go,” spaketh the speaker, “I’m asked: When will the House stand up on behalf of the people to stop the encroachment of executive power under President Obama?”

Really? Everywhere? That’s the question he gets?

Maybe he needs to get around to more places. I think he’d find that most people are more concerned about the imploding middle class, rising poverty, inequality, climate change, surges of violence in the Middle East and former Soviet Union, and even the failure of Boehner’s own “leadership” to address these real-life issues.

Nonetheless, Boehner is suing Obama for his “effort to erode the power of the legislative branch.”

Let’s check the numbers. So far, Obama’s White House has issued 183 presidential orders. Yet George W. Bush was far more outrageous, using this power 291 times. Did Boehner try to sue George W. for aggressive unilateralism?

No. Boehner endorsed his fellow Republican’s executive orders, even writing to Bush in 2008 pleading with him to exercise that presidential power for a national emergency — in this case, exempting a “historic steamboat” in his home state of Ohio from safety regulations.

And what about Ronald Reagan’s 381 executive orders, Richard Nixon’s 346, Dwight Eisenhower’s 484, Herbert Hoover’s 968, and Teddy Roosevelt’s 1,081?

I happen to oppose the use of these orders — but I also oppose using them to play crass partisan politics, as this goofy speaker is doing. ~  Jim Hightower

Governor Rick Perry Indicted! A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for allegedly abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption — making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state’s first indicted governor in nearly a century.  

A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit run by the office of Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg was convicted of drunken driving, but refused Perry’s calls to resign.  

Perry’s general counsel, Marry Anne Wiley, defended the governor’s action.  

“The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution,” she said. “We will continue to aggressively defend the governor’s lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail.”  

The unit Lehmberg oversees is the same that led the investigation against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican who in 2010 was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering for taking part in a scheme to influence elections in his home state.  

Several top aides to the Republican governor appeared before grand jurors in Austin, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry himself did not testify, though.  

Perry was indicted on charges of abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years.  

No one disputes that Perry is allowed to veto measures approved by the Legislature, including part or all of the state budget. But the left-leaning Texans for Public Justice government watchdog group filed an ethics complaint accusing the governor of coercion because he threatened to use his veto before actually doing so in an attempt to pressure Lehmberg to quit.  

“We’re pleased that the grand jury determined that the governor’s bullying crossed the line into illegal behavior,” said Craig McDonald, executive director of Texans for Public Justice. “The complaint had merit, serious laws were potentially broken.”  

Michael McCrum, the San Antonio-based special prosecutor said he “took into account the fact that we’re talking about a governor of a state — and a governor of the state of Texas, which we all love.”  

“Obviously that carries a lot of importance,” McCrum said. “But when it gets down to it, the law is the law.”  

In office since 2000 and already the longest-serving governor in Texas history, Perry isn’t seeking re-election in November. But the criminal investigation could mar his political prospects as he mulls another run at the White House, after his 2012 presidential bid flamed out.  

McCrum said he’ll meet with Perry’s attorney Monday to discuss when he will come to the courthouse to be arraigned. McCrum said he doesn’t know when Perry will be booked. ~ AP

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