Voter Expansion Project!

The goal of this project is to make it easier and more convenient for Americans to participate in the electoral process, by empowering them with the information they would need to exercise their right to vote. Go to for more information on Minnesota voting guidelines and access to on-line voter registration. A Spanish language version,, was also launched so that language does not pose an unnecessary barrier to electoral participation for those voters who are more comfortable getting information in Spanish.

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AFSCME - Promoting excellence in public services, dignity in the workplace with opportunity and prosperity for all!

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



          AFSCME Local 34                                Updated 8/29/2014

Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.

As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. Many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later, when a watershed moment in American labor history brought workers’ rights squarely into the public’s view. On May 11, 1894, employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on strike to protest wage cuts and the firing of union representatives. On June 26, the American Railroad Union, led by Eugene V. Debs, called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. To break the strike, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago, unleashing a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers. In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.




Upcoming Events!

Visit AFSCME 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. We’re promoting balanced, long-term investment in roads, bridges, transit, and bike and pedestrian facilities. That commitment protects our jobs; provides dedicated, sustainable revenue; and makes sure Minnesota has the infrastructure to support a growing economy and high quality of life.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.  

Celebrate Labor Day with a Picnic! Congressman Keith Ellison’s annual barbecue to honor labor is Sunday August 31, from Noon-2 p.m., at Wabun Picnic Area D. The picnic pavilion is in Minnehaha Falls Park, 4655 46th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Come March with us in the Labor Day Parade at the Minnesota State Fair! Monday, September 1, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. Join the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, union members and their families, retirees, and friends of labor in this fun event! Parade participants receive a free ticket to the fair. This is our day! Let’s make an impact! Our unit will line up at 1:00 p.m. across the street from the Como Avenue Entrance, Gate 25. If you have questions or to RSVP your attendance, please call Vicki at 651-222-3787 ext. 20.

A Story of Workers on Labor Day! “Who Built Our Capitol?” – the story of the men and women who built the Minnesota State Capitol from the ground up – will be broadcast on Labor Day, September 1, on Twin Cities Public Television’s Minnesota Channel. You can watch the Labor Education Service documentary at 2 a.m., 8 a.m., 2 p.m., and 8 p.m.  

Labor 2014 Retiree Day of Action! With special guest speaker Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. Thursday September 4, 2014, 2:00 p.m., Room 218, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, 312 Central Avenue, Minneapolis.

Firefighters’ Fundraiser Aims to Buy 1,000 Winter Coats for Minneapolis Kids! Enjoy at evening at the Fulton Brewery and help Minneapolis Firefighters Local 82 raise funds to buy 1,000 new American-made winter coats for Minneapolis elementary school students. The fundraiser for Local 82’s “Operation Warm” takes place Saturday, September 6 from 3:00-10:00 p.m. at Fulton Brewery, 414 6th Ave. N., Minneapolis. A $20 donation includes access to Fulton beer, food trucks, a silent auction, and live music. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit

NorthPoint Health & Wellness Fitness Event! On Saturday, September 13, 2014, NorthPoint will host its third annual Fit-4-Fun Event. Last year, close to 1,000 community members participated in this event. This on site event starts at 10 a.m. and will include a family oriented 1 or 3 mile walk or run as well as a bike ride through the Northside neighborhoods. In addition, participants will be able to try aerobic exercises, line dancing, and other activities. Attendees will also make their way through an obstacle course. There will be music, prizes, and healthy food options to try. NorthPoint will be distributing health and wellness information and most importantly, providing a setting where everyone can have fun. NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center has made a strategic decision and priority to engage our community to make better informed decisions concerning their health and wellness and encourage them to simply "get up and move." We look forward to your participation!

‘Labor Movie Night’ documentary recounts 1939 story of sharecroppers organizing! The “Labor Movie Night” series presents the documentary fi lm “Oh Freedom After a While” Friday, September 19 at 6:00 p.m. in Room 356 of the United Labor C entre, 312 Central Ave., Minneapolis. Admission is free. Snacks, beer and soda will be available during the fi lm; donations appreciated. “Oh Freedom After A While” (U.S.A., 1999, 56 minutes) uncovers the story of a 1939 protest by sharecropping farmers. One wintry morning in January 1939, residents of southeastern Missouri awoke to a startling sight. More than 1,000 sharecroppers — mostly African American but whites, too — had camped out alongside two state highways with their families and a few meager belongings. They were taking a stand against the planters, the federal government, and the desperate conditions of their lives. Their tale, narrated by Julian Bond, is told by interweaving recollections by former sharecroppers, their children and scholars with vivid archival footage and striking Farm Security Administration photographs, despite the odds, they organized themselves, attracted national attention, and changed government policies. “Labor Movie Night” is sponsored by AFSCME Local 3800, AFSCME Council 5 Next Wave, and AFSCME Locals 2822, 34, and 1164.The fi lm series runs the third Friday of each month.

EEO! The next Education, Engagement, and Outreach (EEO) meeting will be held on October 6, at the Health Services Building, Room 110 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For those of you who missed the last EEO meeting, discussion included staffing issues, employee discipline tracking system, Hennepin County Workplace Culture statistics and workplace actions.  Contact Local 34 member Heather Hemmer for more information. 

Labor lunch! The next Labor Lunch will be held on November 12, 12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m. in the Government Center Auditorium. Subject: Strikes.

Labor Ball! AFSCME Next Wave Minnesota presents: Save the date - Friday, November 14. Currently seeking donations to help defer costs. Make checks payable to AFSCME Local 66. Memo line: Next Wave. Send check to AFSCME Local 66, 211 West 2nd Street, #205, Duluth, Minnesota 55802. Questions: Contact Ryan Welles.

AFSCME Local 34 News!

  • The September issue of the Local 34 Banner is a milestone issue! The Executive Board has decided that beginning with the October 2014 issue, this newsletter will no longer be distributed in paper version to each individual member. Rather, about 200 copies will be printed—primarily for bulletin boards at our job sites. The PDF version will be made available to each of you through e-mail links via unit representatives. If you don’t have a mailed link for that issue by October 1st, please contact Jean Diederich, Local 34 President.

  • New Local 34 Chief Steward! Please join us in congratulating Tywanna Gray on her election at our last Local 34 Executive Board meeting to fill the Senior Chief Steward position.  She brings her years of service as a Local 34 steward and activist to her new role.  I, along with all the officers and stewards, look forward to working together with Tywanna and her co-Chief Steward, Kela Williams, as we continue to address issues we face in the workplace. If you find yourself in the need for a steward to represent you, please note that you now contact both Tywanna and Kela. As Chief Stewards, they will then work with you to find a steward to represent you. Please feel free to share this news with your coworkers. The Member-at-Large position remains vacant.  ~ Jean Diederich, Local 34 President

  • Welcome Committee! Local 34 has a new Welcome Committee for new employees, composed of Stewards Tywanna Gray, Margo Blay Bugbee and Sheila Lipsco, and Member-at-Large Deborah Konechne. They work in conjunction with the EE&O Committee and the Membership Secretary, Heather Hemmer.

  • Facebook! Amanda Abell has been approved as our new Local 34 Facebook page Administrator. This is a “Closed” group, so contact Amanda to request access.

  • Budget & Finance Committee! The Budget & Finance Committee reported that meetings have commenced for the year, and the committee is diligently working to flesh out what a membership dues increase would look like, based on 2015 wages. A presentation of sample dues increases with discussion will be presented at the September 3rd General Membership meeting. The 2015 Local 34 budget recommendation is pending.

  • Minnesota Union Leadership Program! Three Local 34 members have been selected to participate in the Minnesota Union Leadership Program for 2014-2015. Congratulations to Deborah Diggins, Lakisha Perkerson and Brenda Braswell! They will attend a series of workshops over the course of a year touching on the topics of unions in the 21st century – labor being in the public eye, labor and our economy, labor and social changes, building union membership and taking leadership roles in the union.  

  • Convention Adds Food Drive! AFSCME Council 5’s convention will include a food drive to benefit people served by Neighbors Inc. The food shelf assists more than 600 families a month in Inver Grove Heights, South St. Paul, and West St. Paul. Locals and individuals can donate non-perishable food or money. Checks should be payable to “Neighbors Inc.” At last year’s convention, AFSCME members donated 2 tons of food and $2,000 to Duluth’s CHUM food shelf.  

  • Home Care Workers Announce Victory in Historic Union Election! On Tuesday, Minnesota’s home care workers etched a new chapter in the state’s history, alongside the miners who organized the Iron Range, the truck drivers who shut down Minneapolis in 1934 and the women who led landmark strikes by teachers in 1946 and 1970 and by nurses in 1984. Ballots were mailed to 26,000 home care workers Aug. 1 in the largest union election in Minnesota history. When the state Bureau of Mediation Services counted the ballots Tuesday, 60 percent of those voting (3,542 out of a total of 5,872) chose SEIU Healthcare Minnesota to represent them. Read more.

  • Working Partnerships! Local 34 has committed to supporting the 2nd Annual Working Partnerships’ Golf Tournament held on Monday, October 6, 2014. The Local 34 membership voted to approve lost time for up to ten members to volunteer at this event. If you are interested in helping out, please contact President Jean diederich so that she can forward your name on to Doug Flateau (Working Partnerships). Last year’s event had a good turnout and they look forward to having even more participants this year. Doug Flateau of Working Partnerships did a special presentation for the August General Membership meeting. Doug spoke about LIVE UNITED (affiliated with United Way) which is a national movement that strengthens communities by improving education, income, and health. Their goals are clear, ambitious, and attainable — but only with your support.

View from the Cheap Seats! by Vicki Moore, Local 34 Vice President

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.

This month much of my time has been spent supporting CPSWs who are experiencing very high caseloads and documentation standards while in the midst of significant change throughout the Child Protection Programs. Dan Neumann, Brenda Louise and Jody Stadler stepped up and took the lead in soliciting concerns from other workers in the area, analyzing the work and meeting with Area Manager Ja-nine Moore. Their analysis was de-tailed and thoughtful. I knew that they were working long hours but was surprised to learn that currently it takes 72 hours to achieve the results expected to be achieved within the normal 40 hour workweek. I cannot find the words to express the stress this places on Child Protection Staff when they all know that their primary mandate is the protection of children.

Dan, Brenda and Jody reached out to other staff, but we know that they may not have heard all of the concerns. They are still open to hearing from staff. As the result of their work, they were able to meet with Area Manager at Meet and Confer and able to set-up a meeting between Janine and Child Protection Staff. The feedback that I’ve received indicates that Janine was able to hear the concerns. I was privileged to be at this meeting and can report that there was meaningful dialogue. Janine was able to clearly say what she could and could not do. She was also able to tell staff that there were requests that needed more research. {At left, see Janine Moore’s e-mail to Staff, dated August 13th} This is a work in progress. What is clear is that the issues are known and solutions are being sought.

Here’s some good news from the legislative front: Congressman Keith Ellison has introduced a bill making Union Organizing a Civil Right. Here’s what he had to say: “Discrimination against union organizers is rampant. One in five union organizers are fired due to their efforts. These firings are illegal, but current protections for workers are inadequate. My bill will give workers the same legal options for union organizing discrimination as for other forms of discrimination.” And that’s the View from the Cheap Seats for this month.

Note: David Hough and the County Board have heard our concerns. They have authorized an additional 22 staff to be added to our Budget for 2015. What this means for us is the following: A new Child Protection Investigative Unit (10 staff and a Supervisor), a new Child Protection Field Unit (10 CPSW’s to serve ICWA and Non-ICWA and a Supervisor), and a new Induction Unit (10 CPSW’s plus Lisa Tittle as the Supervisor) – (Previously approved but yet to be hired). These 33 additional staff will help to mitigate some of the stresses that are being felt across the Child Protection Service area and allow the staff and supervisors to feel productive and successful in fulfilling their job duties while managing and supervising much more reasonable caseload sizes. ~ Janine Moore, Children and Family Services Area Director.

Are You Ready for Changes to Your Pension? by Carolyn Vreeman

Every year, I facilitate a workshop about the Public Employee Pension Services Association (PEPSA) at conferences. Last year, we split the room into 3 age groups: age 18-25, 26-50, 51-70. I asked the groups to identify what is important to them during that age range. The 18-25 group talks about employment, relationships, traveling, and starting a family. Age 26-50 talks about buying a home, raising children, career-planning, and college for kids. Finally, when we get to the 51-70 year old group we hear the word “retirement.” The group realizes that there are so many demands for our money throughout our lives that it is difficult for people to even think about retirement plans until it’s too late. One of the 18-25 group members talked about an article that she’d just read stating that the average employee saves less than $1,000 per year for retirement. Yikes!

Hennepin County knows this. Years ago, public employees were offered a pension so they can retire comfortably. That pension exists today, but changes are looming…

Since 2009, 45 states have responded to fiscal constraints by making significant changes to their retirement plans, including increasing employee contributions, reducing benefits, or both. Other states have modified their plan design, choosing to transfer more of the risk associated with providing retirement benefits from the state and its political subdivisions to its employees.

The Public Employee Pension Services Association (PEPSA) acts as a “watchdog” for your pension at the capital. We work to protect your pension through lobbying, research, establishing partnerships with legislators, and by “rallying the troops” when our pension is under attack. If you’re al-ready a member of PEPSA, you’re receiving our newsletter, and you’re ready to act to protect your pension! Thank you! If you’re not a member, contact Carolyn Vreeman (, Katie Farber (, Don Nikkola (612)386-7639, or go to We need all of the help we can get.

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