Enough is Enough! How We Are Building for the Future

This past year has been a year of great struggle and great mobilization. Last contract fight, we fought hard during negotiations and won some pretty good annual increases but, despite our best efforts, the County took away our steps, doubling the time it takes workers to get to the top of their hourly pay. It was a disgusting move especially after the County successfully lobbied the State Legislature to increase top pay for County Administrator David Hough. There’s a lot of money sloshing around the County but somehow we’re considered the last priority.

This past summer the County refused to decrease our healthcare costs despite having the money to do so. Instead they gave themselves the savings by refusing to pay our insurance premiums for 3 pay periods. But as a result of member calls, emails and actions at Commissioner Meetings we were able to keep costs flat and make big gains in uniting our unions. This was excellent but we need more.

Enough is enough. We need to be able to build our forces and fight back. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Since last fall our union leaders, led by the Hennepin County Policy Committee and Local Executive Boards, Stewards and Activists have been assessing our wins, losses and strategizing a way to unite and harness our collective strength to act and speak with a united voice.

We’re doing this in a number of ways:

  1. Filing joint class action grievances that affect ALL our members regardless of jobclass, local or deptartment

    Our most recent class action grievance is demanding the County return the health insurance premiums it didn’t pay in September and October. This is 11.2 million dollars, money THEY agreed to pay in negotiations. 

  2. Coming together with unity of demands and action around the health care insurance.

    AFSCME Locals led the way in discussions with County Administration around decreasing insurance costs to members. For the first time ever were able to unite all Hennepin County unions and associations to make one unified demand to management. In the end we didn’t win all our demands but we did win one big thing: the interest from our insurance bank account (which will amount to over $1 million) will be returned to our fund instead of going to the County’s General Fund to be used however they want.

  3. Strategic Planning for 2021

    One thing we know for certain: we never want to be in the position we were last contract negotiations ever again. If the County isn’t willing to offer us the wages and respect we deserve we need to have ALL options on the table and that includes walking away. 

    Workers across the Country, inspired by a wave of successful teachers strikes from West Virginia, to LA (to name a few) are standing up to say enough is enough.

No one wants to go on strike but we need that choice. That means we need to be prepared just in case. That’s why our Locals are reviewing strike preparation manuals, consulting other Labor leaders who have gone on strike and researching financial preparation for locals and individuals so we can make decisions based on facts not fear. Have questions or ideas? Let us know. We’ll have a survey coming out in early 2020 to collect your thoughts and feedback. Have ideas now? Send me an email [email protected]