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Hennepin County AFSCME members hold contract campaign kick-off rally

By staff |
June 24, 2021
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Hennepin County AFSCME demands a decent contract.
Hennepin County AFSCME demands a decent contract. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Minneapolis, MN - On June 22, more than 150 members of AFSCME who work for Hennepin County held a boisterous rally in front of the Hennepin County Government Center to kick off their 2021 contract negotiations. The AFSCME locals at Hennepin County are Locals 2822, 34, 552, 1719, 2864 and 2938, collectively representing many thousands of public sector workers employed by the county.

The AFSCME members have led many important fights throughout the pandemic, including fights to keep their workers at home safe, to keep folks paid and avoid layoffs, to require face coverings and other safety protocols for onsite work, and to keep the community safe. They have also fought to mitigate the disproportionate affects of the pandemic on African American and other oppressed nationality members of their locals and have won battles against retaliation against union activists who raised their voices in these struggles.

Now as things open up and functioning in the county begins to return to some level of normalcy they are fighting once again to ensure that their sacrifices are recognized in a strong contract.

Some of their demands include increased parental leave and flexible attendance policies that allow for the caretaking of loved ones, onsite childcare, hazard pay and proper equipment for working from home when needed, increases to paid time off for things like mental health leave, inclusive holidays, and emergency child and health care. The union members are proposing 5% raises along with 7% yearly cost-of-living increases. They are also fighting against discrimination in the workplace, to allow the union to be part of processes around “Non-Discrimination and Respectful Workplace” policies at Hennepin County, among other demands to make Hennepin County a safe and inclusive place to work.

The rally featured speakers from AFSCME locals and also from other unions in the Twin Cities area, along with food, music and activities for kids.

Latonya Reeves is the treasurer of AFSCME local 552 and she said, “We are out here doing a rally for our contract negotiations opener this morning with Hennepin County. One thing we are striving for is to make sure that all of the hard work our employees put in, all the struggles, the strife and irritation every day working with kids from home and all the things they had going on, that we fight to have a fair contract that pays them back for all their hard work. To let them know that we appreciate you for all your hard work and care. We want to say thank you, and to do that we need Hennepin County to pay us what we are worth. Pay us what we earned!”