Can't Win if you Don't Fight

One Strong, United Voice for Workers

Established in April 1950, AFSCME Local 34 represents over 2000 Social Service employees of Hennepin County


Newsletter (February)

President's blog (February)

AFSCME has made a commitment to getting back to organizing basics, building power at the grassroots level and hearing the unique concerns of every public service worker in one-on-one conversations. As a union, we will never quit fighting for the respect and opportunity public service workers deserve, because public service workers never quit on our communities.~ AFSCME


 Local 34 Officers

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Local 34 Contract  

AFSCME Advantage


Labor Lunch at entury Plaza  

AFSCME Happy Hour 

First Friday of every month. 5 p.m. Mac’s Industrial Bar. 

Are You Up to Date?

Can your union reach you when you’re not at work? To make sure we can, we need your personal – not work – email and phone. Simply fill out the form on Council 5's website.

Learn about and embrace lifestyle choices that lead to healthier, more active and satisfying lives at the 2017 Health & Benefit Fair on Saturday, April 8.


Members Protest HCMC Layoffs, Lack of Transparency

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About 200 workers rallied Friday against layoffs at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Chanting “Chop from the top” and “Who does the work? We do,” members of AFSCME Locals 977 and 2472 marched around HCMC, waving signs demanding respect. They were joined by other AFSCME locals and several unions, including the Minnesota Nurses Association, IBEW and the Writers Guild. Several members of the public took buttons in support.

The workers came out to protest both the layoffs of nearly 200 workers, including 131 full-time employees, as well as the way the layoffs came down in clear violation of their union contract.

“This was handled very haphazardly,” says Local 2474 president Sara Franck, an HCMC dental assistant. “They did not meet with us to strategize. They made very poor decisions that patients are going to affected by. They do not have enough people to do the work, to care for the patients who depend on us, who need us to survive.

“That is not fair to the patients we serve at this hospital with kindness, caring and dignity,” Franck says. “That’s what we give to our patients and that’s what we should be receiving from our employer, and that is not what they did.”

Local 977 president Carmen Brown, an HCMC patient service coordinator, says if the hospital has to address funding shortfalls, top executives are cutting from the wrong place.

“We feel the hospital is top heavy in management, and they need to chop from the top,” she says. Brown says it’s the frontline workers targeted by the layoffs who do much of the work: They clean and sanitize the hospital, make the food, greet people and check them in. They schedule appointments, set up insurance coverage and make sure patients get their medication.

“When they’ve had a hard day or hard experience, they hug us and we hug them back,” Brown says. “I’ve watched children come in as infants who now are adults with their own children. It’s a community hospital, and we are here to serve our community.”

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AFSCME members are passing petitions, holding rallies and talking to lawmakers. AFSCME is suing HCMC and the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. The lawsuit charges that HCMC violated the AFSCME contract in multiple ways, including:

  • Outsourcing work and hiring non-union contract workers to replace laid-off workers.

  • Violating the rights of veterans, who are entitled to keep a job as long as it exists.

  • Not laying off contract and temporary workers first.

  • Not doing layoffs based on seniority, not giving workers notice of their bumping rights, and not giving them enough time to decide what to do.

AFSCME is seeking an order that temporarily blocks the layoffs and gives all these workers their jobs back with pay and no loss of seniority. Council 5 is also asking the judge to require HCMC management to meet and confer with AFSCME.

Members shared painful stories during the march Friday about how the layoffs are hurting workers. The looming staff cuts created a climate of stress and uncertainty for months.

LPN Aaron Guetter was just one step away from being laid off. He says the only reason he still has a job is because another nurse didn’t bump him, and that’s tough knowledge.

“The last few months, we’ve just been on edge because we don’t know who’s going to get laid off,” says Guetter, who’s a trustee with Local 2474 and the AFSCME Dental Trust. “Family life has been affected, the stress. None of us know what to expect. There’s just no transparency with what’s been going on.”  

Layoffs have been looming so long, he didn’t know if he should buy his young children gifts at Christmas. His parents kicked in so the holidays would be normal for his kids.

“You can’t plan,” Guetter says. “We’ve been saving money as much as we can. For now, I’m safe, but I don’t know.”

Marlon Gaston of Local 977 says management is disrupting life for workers in his department, which cleans and sanitizes the whole facility: They’ve changed around schedules and made it impossible for many employees to keep daycare or second jobs.

He says management is also requiring the people in his department to do more with less. He figures workers are being asked to do about two hours more work than is possible in an 8-hour day.

 “I’m finding a lot of young women crying because they don’t know what to do with their kids,” Gaston says. “It’s thrown them all completely off. Most women told me they don’t know what to do. They’re going to have to quit their jobs. That’s another way of laying folks off, by just making them quit.”

Colette Weilert, a medical coding specialist from Local 2474, says she sees outsourcing all around her at HCMC. She’s concerned it will happen to her department, too, even though outsourcing often costs more. She also questions why top managers are spending so much hiring consultants instead of doing that work themselves.

“Stop outsourcing our work!” Weilert says. “We deserve good-paying jobs to support our families. What kind of message are we sending to our patients and the community? That we don’t value people.”

Weilert and her husband, Chris, brought their two daughters, ages 11 and 9, along to march.

“I want them to see it’s important to fight for what’s right and good-paying jobs, and to be part of democracy and to be activists,” she says. “What HCMC is doing is just wrong.”

Local presidents Brown and Franck offered several suggestions to HCMC:

  • Give workers job security, and they’ll embrace change. Provide training if workers need it.

  • Move resources where it matters most, like the ER and trauma center.

  • Hire fewer managers and more frontline workers.

  • Involve frontline workers in finding ways to improve efficiency and deliver service. They have a lot of ideas.

  • Recognize that frontline staff are not only HCMC’s greatest asset, they’re the heart and soul of the place.


Call HCMC CEO Jon Pryor at 612-873-3629. Tell him that layoffs and outsourcing hurt patient care.  

AFSCME Council 5


     AFSCME Local 34                                        Updated 3/23/2017

The fight for workplace equality is far from over, but these 11 stories are a start

"Women's work" is a term traditionally used to narrow career possibilities and reinforce gender roles. But what if it wasn't?

A new photo series from Reuters explores the great diversity of what women at work look like around the world, across dozens of professions. Created to commemorate #BeBoldForChange, the theme of International Women's Day 2017, the photo series gives an up-close-and-personal look at the progress women have made in the workplace, as well as the struggles that lie ahead.

Here are 11 of those kickass women talking about the sexism they've faced even as they break down barriers and redefine what it means to be a woman at work.  


Local 34 Officer Elections


  • Senior Chief Steward (1): Mara Ssengendo, Kenneth W. Garnier

  • Members at Large (3): Angel Alexander, Remy Huerta-Stemper, Kimberly Jorgensen, Erica Millner, Alexandra Marzolf 

Voting for any contested races will be done by mail-in ballot in the following manner: Beginning Monday, April 3rd, a ballot will be mailed to each member’s last known address. A self addressed stamped envelope and a balloting envelope will be provided to return the marked ballot. All offices will be voted on by the general membership. Members will have until Monday, April 24th to return their marked ballot. Any ballots postmarked after April 24th will not be counted.  

Ballots will be counted on Thursday April 27, 2017 at 5:30 PM at the Local 34 office, Room 488, United Labor Center Building, 312 Central Ave. NE., Minneapolis.

Questions about the election can be addressed to Alex Erickson, at 612-348-7304.


  • First Vice President: Grace Baltich

  • Recording Secretary: David Yang

  • Membership Secretary: Deb Konechne 

  • Mpls. Regional Labor Federation Delegates (5): Jean Diederich, Grace Baltich, Kay Powell, Kenneth W. Garnier, 

  • Mpls. Regional Labor Federation Alternates (6): Maggie Keating

  • St. Paul Regional Labor Federation Delegates (5): Jean Diederich, Kathy Kelly, Jody Stadler, Deb Konechne, Tamika Hannah, Laura Ross 

  • St. Paul Regional Labor Federation Alternates (6):

  • The trustee (1) remains open.


AFSCME Organizing Days

Who: All are welcome! Anyone who wants to learn more about or get a feel for union organizing or get more involved in our union.

When: One day in the months of February, March, May, June, August, September, November

How: Let Deb Konechne know. Ask for the day off, take Special Leave Without Pay (SLWOP) and our union pays your day’s wages.

Upcoming Dates/Locations:  

  • May 11 - Government Center

  • June 7 - NW Hub

  • August 16 - West Hub

  • September 14 - North Hub / Northpoint

  • November - TBD

The last Local 34 Labor Lunch held in February was very successful! We collected 30 new membership cards and over 110 people attended.

Local 34 doubled our number of Member Action Team (MAT) leaders in the past quarter. Contact Deb Konechne if you may be interested. Local 34 will continue our efforts to develop Member Action Teams (MAT) during 2017. The structure is aimed at fostering communication, networking and organizing for our members. Our goal is to have 80 MAT leaders by the end of 2017. Contact Deb Konechne, Local 34 Membership Secretary for more information and to express your interest in becoming a MAT leader. Contact Deb at or or call her at 612-816-4321.  

AFSCME Strong Update

AFSCME Strong is our program to determine our own destiny by building a stronger union with members who are more engaged. We’re already at 87 percent full membership! Sign a membership card to protect your job, defend our rights and preserve the quality of services we provide our communities.  

Elissa McBride Elected AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer

The International Executive Board of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees today by acclamation elected Elissa McBride as its new secretary-treasurer. McBride, who will assume office effective immediately, has served as AFSCME’s director of Education and Leadership Training since 2001. “AFSCME members are the backbone of our communities,” McBride said. “Members of our union staff our libraries, maintain our roads, care for us in times of medical crisis ensure the safety of our children and much more. I am honored to serve as their secretary-treasurer, and I pledge to serve with passion, integrity and commitment as we continue to organize for workers’ rights and fight for public services.” AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders added: “Elissa McBride has been a dynamic force in our union for more than 15 years. As a superb educator and organizer, she has helped lead us through a period of growth and change. She never quits fighting for our members, and for all working people, to get the respect they deserve. At this critical moment in AFSCME’s history, she has the energy and expertise we need to put us on the right course for the future.”

New Dental Trustee 

The membership approved the appointment of Alex Erickson as our Local 34 Dental Trustee for the Council 5 Dental Trust. He joins representatives from Locals 1719, 2822, 977, 2474 and Council 5 to oversee the nuts & bolts of our self-insured dental program. Thank you to Doug Graham for serving in this position and thank you to Alex for taking it on. We all appreciate your work to help us keep our dental health in good shape.

Employee Engagement  

The appointment of Christina Eichorn to serve as the union representative to this County committee was approved by the membership. She will work with Hennepin County employees from various work areas on issues that affect employees. This past month, the engaged Work culture team met to talk about "total rewards". Total rewards is Hennepin County's new way of advertising all of the benefits we get as employees. Hennepin County is breaking down "total rewards" into three areas: Culture, Pay and Benefits.

Netroots Nation

Local 34 membership voted to send 4 people to Netroots Nation, held in Atlanta, GA, from 8/9/17- 8/13/17. Delegates for Netroots will be elected at the May General Assembly meeting. Interested members may submit their names to President Jean Diederich or attend the meeting.

Activists’ Corner

The Activists’ Corner will be a reoccurring column in the Local 34 newsletter with tips and information for you - whether you are a beginner or already a leader in your community. 10 ways introverts can be activists - taken from the article by Julia Schemmer, originally published on Huffington Post

  1. Write an op-ed. 

  2. Show up. 

  3. Write resolutions. 

  4. Create. 

  5. Work within your own sphere. 

  6. Take it to social media. 

  7. Volunteer. 

  8. Represent your cause in everyday situations. 

  9. Get involved in committees. 

  10. Grab coffee with someone.

AFL-CIO Scholarship Deadline is April 30

Council 5 Scholarship Deadline is May 5  


AFSCME Council 5advocates for excellence in public services, dignity in the workplace, and opportunity and prosperity for all workers.

AFSCME Local 34 Facebook is a closed group - Email Amanda Abell for an invite. 

AFSCME women make up close to 60% of the union’s membership.

Workday Minnesota is a project of the Labor Education Service at the University of Minnesota. 

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Action Update

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AFSCME Congressional Reports

Labor History in 2:00

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John Herzog - WEB Developer

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

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