Hennepin County AFSCME workers rally at contract opening
Minneapolis, MN – On May 7, over 300 workers rallied on the plaza of the Hennepin County Government Center during the opening day of contract negotiations. The action was organized by workers from Hennepin County AFSCME (American Federal State County & Municipal Employees) Locals 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938. Also in attendance was representatives of AFSCME Council 5.
Since the last contract, three years ago, workers have waged campaigns fighting against sexual harassment and discrimination. Some of the locals have also focused on major membership drives in preparation for ‘right-to-work’ (for less) attacks by anti-union enemies.
Contract negotiations for the Hennepin County AFSCME locals are scheduled to continue through to the fall.
Alessandra Fuhrman, president of AFSCME Local 2822, told the crowd, “Our jobs are different, we know that. We have shared interests that are different from management. But we have things that unite us. We need raises that represent the jobs that we do, that represent the cost of living. Our workers shouldn’t have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. We all deserve raises!”
After addressing the insurance issue, Fuhrman stated, “We are also fighting for protection for our jobs and for our union. We are putting forward proposals to expand parental leave for our members’ children, anti-sexual harassment language, union protections, and language to strengthen our rights as workers.”
Brianne Carmichael, of AFSCME Local 2822, also spoke: “No more will we be disrespected and our humanity and dignity be put on the chopping block for the county to save face. So, today we fight but we demand no less than dignity. We demand that if management and supervisors want our respect, title alone doesn’t afford them this privilege because respect is earned and not learned, and today our supervisors, labor relations and management know we are not their punching bags, scapegoats, or objects of their deflections.”