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EMS Week is a time to recognize the sacrifices that EMS professionals make for their communities and to honor these skilled heroes w

Some people have wild stories about their coworkers. Jill’s, though, are unique.

Minnesota winters are tough. In Rochester, several blizzards brought the entire town to a standstill. Major roads and highways were closed, sometimes for days at a time.

In the 1980s, I was living and going to school in Minnesota when women who worked for state government won a big victory. They got the state to increase the pay of women in “female dominated jobs” by passing a pay equity bill. In other words, they put a dent in the gender pay gap. As a student, I researched and wrote about the process of crafting, passing and implementing that legislation. And I learned something that I have never forgotten: the union made it happen. And not just any union. Our union: AFSCME. 

On February 8th, Arbitrator Stephen Befort ruled against AFSCME Hennepin County Locals in our class action grievance regarding performance pay. For those of you who were not aware, the County decided to carve out workers with a performance review from December 23rd to December 31st in 2018 and deny them their contractual right to a step increase. They argued that since the increase went into effect the next full pay period (in January 2019) that they would get the 3% increase under our new contract instead of their step.

In December, Southdale Library workers learned that Library Administration, led by interim Library director Janet Mills, was completely eliminating their building security presence with no input from library staff. Faced with a unilateral decision that left many workers feeling unsafe and worried about patron safety in a large, multi-level building, they knew they needed to act.

Ali Fuhrman, President, Minneapolis Central Library

Workers in the Central Records of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office achieved a major win in March when a manager who had harassed and intimidated workers for years was finally held ac-countable and removed her position there.

Hennepin County has been seeking a MN Statute change (HF2097 and SF2267) to remove the Master of Library Science degree requirement as they hire a new Hennepin County Library Director. AFSCME Local 2822 acknowledges this is a complicated issue with many perspectives. We respect the varied educations and experiences of all library workers. We respect the hard work we all do serving our library communities.

Day on the Hill gives AFSCME members an opportunity to learn about the legislative process, then use that knowledge to engange in meaningful conversations and build relationships with the people we elect to represent us at the Capitol. It’s a chance to come together as one and have a real impact on the decisions our elected officials make about our work and our lives. Remy Huerta-Stemper (Local 34) says talking to our legislators is a crucial part of making sure workers’ voices from all parts of the state get heard.

Sharing Our Stories

Seven AFSCME members from across Minnesota shared their personal stories with House Speaker Melissa Hortman and more than 1,000 members of our AFSCME Council 5 family. The workers came from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, but their stories shared one solid thread: their AFSCME values and the value of the services we provide that make Minnesota happen.

This year’s Day on the Hill rally in the rotunda did not disappoint. In another major first for our Council, our sister union, MAPE (Minnesota Association of Professional Employees) and AFSCME held a joint midday rally. Union members packed all three floors, filling the rotunda to its brim.

MAPE’s Executive Director, Lina Jamoul, opened the rally by firing up the crowd and declaring, “Together, we are 60,000 workers strong.That's 60,000 workers committed to workplace democracy and a just economy that works for everyone, not just those few at the top.”