Hennepin County workers step up pressure for fair contracts

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Social workers, child support staff, probation officers, librarians and numerous other employees of Hennepin County say they are fed up with contract offers that don’t reward their hard work.

At a rally Monday at the Hennepin County Government Center, members of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said they are united in their call for higher wages and benefits. In recent years, county workers have endured wage freezes, higher premiums for health insurance and unpaid furloughs.

At the same time, workloads have gone up because staff is not being replaced. The county can treat its employees better, the workers said.

“Hennepin County is asking us to do more with less,” said Heather Hemmer, a child support worker and member of AFSCME Local 34. “We demand dignity, respect and a good contract.”

Workers and supporters chanted, “Hennepin County step it up! We are all fed up!” and “Who does the work? We do!”

The county’s current wage offer is 1.5 percent for employees at the top of the pay scale. The union is seeking 4.75 percent for all employees for the three years of the contract.

The AFSCME locals in Hennepin County are Local 34, social and health services; Local 552, probation and parole officers; Local 1719, adult corrections officers; Local 2822, clerical and related services; Local 2864, professional and librarians; Local 2938, legal and essential units.

The union plans further action at the Oct. 15th meeting of the Hennepin County Board, where workers plan to speak up about their contracts. The meeting will start at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, on the 24th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center.

Video by the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service