Hennepin County Contract Negotiations 2011

 

Solidarity

 “We have to change what we do...they already have the clothes off our backs. Next year, will they go after our underwear, too?”

Local 34 Steward commenting on negotiations

Final Settlement: Six Hennepin County AFSCME Locals – 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938 (Essential Unit and Legal Unit) – all voted to accept the contract proposal for 2012-13. Ballots were counted December 9th and the contract was accepted by the members who voted. Local 34 voters approved the settlement by 82.6% to 17.4% margin. The contract settlement was approved by the Hennepin County Board on 12/13/2011 at its final Board meeting of the year.

The wage increase, effective 2013, is as follows:

Local 34 2.5% across the board - no steps
Local 552 1.5% across the board with steps
Local 2822 2.5% across the board - no steps
Local 2864 2.5% across the board - no steps
Local 2938 (Legal) 2.5% across the board - no steps

Note that Local 1719 and Local 2938 (Essential) had the 1.5 percent across the board with steps as part of their contract proposal from the Employer's last and final offer. The contract will be presented to Hennepin County Commissioners for ratification at their Board meeting December 13th.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this democratic process by exercising their right to vote. Please direct questions to the President of your local: Jean Diederich (34), Patrick Guernsey (552), Dale Blom (1719), Lynn Stetler (2822), Caron Chapman (2864) and Kellie Charles (2938).

 

The Master Negotiations Committee met on the evening of 11/21/2011 to review the final contract proposal. After extensive review and lengthy discussion, the members of the Master Team voted to recommend acceptance of the proposal to the Local 34 membership. Each AFSCME local will vote separately to accept the proposal or reject the proposal and authorize a strike. You will also be asked to vote for one of two separate wage proposals. A contract vote by the full membership is set for December 6th. The ballots will be counted on 12/9/2011 in Room 917 of the Health Services Building. A "summary" highlighting the major points of the proposal will be mailed out to members of Local 34 prior to the vote. The summary will contain a list of the times and locations for voting. We encourage all of our members to read the proposal and exercise your right to vote. Fair share members are not allowed to vote unless they sign a union card. Union cards will be available at the voting locations.  

Read the complete proposal!

Contract Summary

 

AFSCME union members show up to support our negotiators in their Mediation Session 11/7/2011

 

11/14/2011 Mediation Summary: Hennepin County's contract negotiation meeting started on Monday morning and ended 24 hours later after a marathon session lasting all night. The tentative settlement addresses issues of wages, steps, health insurance premiums/coverage, stability pay, bullying, ROWE, FCA study, and ergonomics. The final offer from the employer was received around 8:00 a.m. A meeting of the Master Negotiations Committee will be held on 11/21/11 to review the proposal and make a recommendation to the membership. A tentative contract vote by the membership is set for December 6th. Look for more detailed information to follow! 

"Thanks to my fellow Table Team members - Dana Hanson, Maggie Keating, Kathy Kelly, Paul Madison and Wes Volkenant. They endured some long, often tedious and mind-numbing hours over the past few months working on your behalf to negotiate a fair contract for you. We did the very best work that we could do for everyone." ~ Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34

11/7/2011 Mediation Summary: The Mediation Session on Monday, 11/7 lasted 13 hours.  Most of the work on the supplemental agreements has been completed. The last proposal from the County at 5:00 P.M. on Monday still had no wage increase, no steps and no stability pay.  The County is still proposing single health coverage at $60/month for 2012 and $80/month for 2013.  For employees who opt for family health insurance, the employee will be expected to pay 25% of the monthly premium. The next Mediation Session is set for 10:00 A.M on Monday, 11/14/2011.

In the event there is no contract settlement, negotiation updates and strike training has been scheduled as follows:

  • Monday, November 21, Regional Labor Federation, 5:30PM, 312 Central Avenue, Minneapolis

  • Tuesday, November 29, University Baptist Church, 5:30 PM, 1219 University SE, Minneapolis

  • Wednesday, November 30, CWA Hall,  5:30PM, 36th and East Lake St, Minneapolis

  • Tuesday, December 6, TBA 5:30PM 

 

Negotiation Rally Photos

 

10/24/2011 Employer Proposal

Table Talk 11/3/2011

10/24/2011 First Union Contract Proposal

10/24/2011 Second Union Contract Proposal

Table Talk 10/1/2011 Table Talk 10/19/2011
Table Talk 6/14/2011 Table Talk 8/12/2011

Union's Master Proposal

County's Initial Proposal

 

Hennepin County Workers Fight Back

Beverly A.T. Mackey (left) and Gail E. Shannon, both of AFSCME Local 34, chant “We Are One!”

400 Hennepin County workers rallied at the Government Center October 24th, fighting the continuing degradation of their jobs and the county’s ongoing demands for pay and contract concessions. Speaker after speaker said they continue to try to serve the public well, in spite of fewer resources and diminishing financial rewards. “We’re doing a lot more with a lot, lot less, to the point that it’s getting dangerous.” Other speakers criticized the county for once again trying to solve its budget problems on the backs of workers, instead of raising revenue. “We’re the front line, not the bottom line.” 

The county’s contract proposals would implement huge shifts in health insurance costs and completely freeze wages for two years: no raises, no steps, no stability pay. That would make it four straight years of no general pay raises. Meanwhile, county employees continue to work harder – the result of 500 jobs being slashed since 2008.

The crowd - AFSCME members and supporters from other unions – greeted speakers with chants of “We Are One!” and “Who Does The Work? We do!” The chants echoed off 20 floors of windows that overlook the atrium where they gathered for their noontime rally.

 

Testimonial

Good Morning! I want to do something to encourage those Union members who are not yet "full members" to consider making the small change! I was inspired by the union brother at the Rally yesterday whose entire unit are now "full members"!!! WOW!!!

My name is Kelli Clancy-Kogler. I am a senior social worker in the Adult Protection unit. I am a wife and a mother to a 2 year old son. I have been the sole earner in our household for a year and a half, by circumstance, not by choice. I cut coupons, I cut corners, I pinch pennies. I pay attention to our finances because they have to go a long way. Probably just like yours.

I am also a new county employee as I was hired in June. I remember well the decision I needed to make between being a "dues paying member" or a "full voting member" of our Union. I was told the cost difference was small. When I learned the very small financial difference and the very big gain (VOTING rights), it was an easy decision for me despite the extra $$ each month I would not have in my paycheck. I remember saying to Kela Williams "Am I missing something here? Is there a reason I wouldn't choose to be a full member"? She smiled knowingly but did not persuade me in either direction.

I am a full union member - I get to VOTE on the upcoming contract. I get to vote and say "this is good enough" or "this is not good enough".
It is my voice and the other full members who will decide to accept or reject the current contract proposal. With a strike as a very possible outcome, I certainly want to be in an active decision making voting position. I don't want others deciding for me if we'll strike or not strike, if we'll accept "zero's" or we won't accept zero's.

I want to put in my own vote. I want to be active in that part of this process.

If we have to stand on a picket line to show our solidarity, I want others to know I am a full member and I VOTED.

If we are able to come to a contract that includes "no zero's" I too want to be able to say, I VOTED.

Don't you?

Kelli Clancy-Kogler

 

By now, 2011–2012 Member Survival Kits, or Strike Manuals are on their way to your desks.  

While there are certainly always questions like, will we go on strike, when would we go on strike, or how long a strike would last, now is the time to prepare for the possibility of a strike, and to understand what a strike would look like.  

Frankly, one of the first things many of us worry about is our income while on strike. Pay periods start January 1, 15 and 29, and every two weeks after that in 2012. If we go on strike, it is your responsibility to update your timesheet in APEX on your last day of work before striking, and to submit it. You will be paid for hours worked. Pay dates in 2012 are every two weeks after January 6 and 20. You will not be paid if you had no hours worked in the previous pay period.  

Further, there is no strike fund. Local treasuries would not be able to support strikers. There would likely be a hardship committee set up to assist with specific concerns. Other unions and other AFSCME units would provide help and assistance, much as we did for laid-off state employees during the recent shutdown. Still, if you‘re reading this in October or November—any strike is weeks or months away. Now is a good time to start preparing by perhaps con-serving expenses, by preparing credit card companies and other creditors, and by preparing your family and/or friends with the changing circumstances that may be very impactful on your lives.  

Health insurance is another important consideration. In a correction of the Manual, health insurance is deducted the first two checks each month, and we no longer pay for our insurance a month ahead. If you are working as of the first of the month, by state law, you will be covered by the County for that month.  

Of course, you can continue at, or start working at, a second or third job, while on strike. For some, child care would be an issue, and you should check the Strike Manual for suggestions.  

It is important to realize that the expectation for all per-sons in our bargaining units - members and fair share fee payers, alike, is that you would honor the picket lines - in fact, members should be taking turns at the picket lines - yes, even in the dead of winter. Some will have appropriate reasons - health-related, for example -  to not be on the line, but may still be able to assist in planning, logistics, food preparation, etc. Picket training would be provided, but taking regular shifts of about four hours should be expected. We would likely be picketing multiple locations, so even with 3000-plus members to call upon, there would be a large number involved every day.  

No one can be retaliated against for participating in the strike, whether or not they are permanent, probationary or temporary employees. If you are part of the AFSCME bargaining unit, you may go on strike without fear of retaliation. Employers are restricted by law in terms of replacing staff. The Employer may hire temporary replacements, or - scabs but the Employer can not permanently replace us during a strike.  

The Strike Manual makes suggestions for those who are approaching retirement, and discusses what‘s done for those on medical leaves during the strike period. Apparently short-term and long-term disability will still be paid during a strike, but of course, any pre-approved vacations would be canceled.  

It was not uncommon for AFSCME and the County to extend negotiations past the end of the con-tract in past years, although 1994 may have been the last such time. Mediation between the sides will likely continue even if a strike vote is taken. Going on strike is a last resort for both the union and the Employer.

Still, AFSCME units in Minnesota have gone out on strike. In both 1981 and 2001, former Council 6 went on strike against the State of Minnesota for three weeks in 1981 and two weeks in 2001. Dakota County Local 304 struck in 1985, followed six years later by Ramsey County. The University of Minnesota’s Local 3800 conducted a textbook‘strike in 2007. 

Strikes are rare, but not unknown in Minnesota. Labor unrest is rooted here. We should prepare for the possibility in light of the contract proposal we received.  

 

Summary of Hennepin County Initial Contract ProposaL to AFSCME

Wages: 

2012: There will be no increase in wages.

2013: There will be no increase in wages.

Step Increases: 

2012: There will be no step increases

2013: There will be no step increases.

Note: Should our negotiations fail to achieve a settlement by December 31, 2011, no steps will be provided commencing the first full payroll period in 2012.

Health Insurance - Employee Contributions:

2012 Single Coverage: Employee pays $173.84/month 

2012 Employee + spouse: Employee pays  $408.52/month

2012 Employee + children: Employee pays  $319.92/month

2012 Family: Employee pays $478.06/month

In 2013, employees shall pay the same percentage of premium as they did in 2012. 

Office visit and prescription co-pays increase for 2012. Plan design change from two tier structure to three tier structure with HealthPartners moving from Tier 1 to Tier 2, Allina and Park Nicollet moving to Tier 3 and HCMC/HFA and the Fairview system being Tier 1.

Note: Should our negotiations fail to achieve a settlement by December 31, 2011, the employer shall pay the same dollar amount toward premium in January, 2012 and beyond, as it did in December 2011. 

Stability Pay: 

2012: There shall be no stability pay in 2012.

2013: There shall be no stability pay in 2013.

 

Joint Bargaining Group: AFSCME Locals 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938.
AFSCME Local 34 Supplemental Proposal: Local 34's Supplemental Proposal
AFSCME Local 34 Table Team Members: Jean Diederich, Cathy Kelly, Kim Kurth, Maggie Keating, Paul Madison, Dana Meyer, Wes Volkenant.
Our current contract is set to expire on 12/31/2011.