News Releases

AFSCME Council 5 president Judy Wahlberg
AFSCME Council 5 president Judy Wahlberg

Statement: America Needs Unions Now More than Ever


The Supreme Court decision on Janus v. AFSCME is a rallying point to unrig the economy.

AFSCME Endorses Tina Smith for U.S. Senator


“Tina is a proven champion for working families."

AFSCME Endorses Erin Murphy for Governor


One of the state’s largest and most politically active unions – AFSCME Minnesota Council 5 – today announced its endorsement of state Rep. Erin Murphy as its candidate for Governor.

After holding months of one-on-one conversations with members to find out what qualities they most want in a Governor, the AFSCME Council 5 Executive Board on April 19 interviewed three well-qualified candidates to become our next Governor: state Rep. Erin Murphy, State Auditor Rebecca Otto and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz.

The Board representing Council 5 members on Thursday endorsed Erin as the candidate who most shares our values, and has the best plan to win in November.

“Erin Murphy has a strong record of supporting workers, our families and our rights,” says AFSCME executive director John P. Westmoreland. “We’re confident Erin will stand up to the billionaires and corporate CEOs trying to take away our freedom to negotiate a fair return on our work and trying to silence the power of workers’ collective voices.”

 “Erin believes in public service and knows that workers are the ones who make our cities, counties and state run well and provide our great quality of life here in Minnesota,” says AFSCME Council 5 president Judy Wahlberg. “She will listen to workers and make sure our crucial public services are funded, rather than focus on giving tax breaks to the rich and to big corporations who are trying to take away workers’ rights.”

"The people of AFSCME are working hard every day to build Minnesota's future," Erin Murphy says. "To have earned the support of this mighty force is testament to our belief in one another and what we can accomplish when we stand together and fight for working people. To me, as a person of labor, it is deeply satisfying, and I am ready to fight for all of us."

AFSCME Council 5 endorsed Erin after an intensive process of gathering input from members. AFSCME spent two months meeting with union locals across the state to determine what traits and values are most important in a Governor; had one-on-one conversations with members; and gave members a chance to meet informally with candidates in small groups in several cities. These conversations informed the candidates’ questionnaire and AFSCME’s legislative priorities this session, and they ultimately guided the Board’s endorsement decision.

State Rep. Erin Murphy is a nurse and former lobbyist, organizer and executive director of the Minnesota Nurses Association. She serves on the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee. She’s former Majority Leader of the Minnesota House.

AFSCME Council 5 is a union of 43,000 workers who advocate for excellence in services for the public, dignity in the workplace, and opportunity and prosperity for all workers. 

Hennepin County Workers to Rally at Government Center May 7


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 1, 2018  

Hundreds of Hennepin County workers will rally at the Government Center Monday, May 7, to kick off their contract negotiations.

Together, members of these Council 5 locals represent more than 4,200 AFSCME members who provide services impacting every resident of Hennepin County. The county workers make up Minnesota’s second-largest AFSCME group.

What’s so unusual and so powerful about their bargaining process is that six AFSCME locals in Hennepin County bargain together: Locals 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938. The combined strength of their voices helps amplify their ability to improve wages and working conditions.

“Hennepin County has always wanted to be the employer of choice,” says Patrick Guernsey, president of Local 552 and head of the Hennepin County Policy Committee. “There are many ways we can work together to maintain that.”

Changes the county could make to ensure it keeps attracting new workers include offering the same amount of paid parental leave as the state and private sector, moving from three weeks to six weeks, Guernsey says. Another change is allowing newer workers who initially opted for PTO (paid time off) to switch to earning separate sick and vacation time. Workers in three locals that have AFSCME dental plans want to ensure they keep them.

Workers will rally right after presenting their first contract proposal to administrators on Monday,
May 7. Expect to see lots of AFSCME green swarming the plaza, presenting great opportunities for B-roll and sound.

EVENT DETAILS
WHAT: AFSCME Council 5 members rally to kick off their contract campaign with the theme, “United We Bargain, Divided We Beg!”

WHO: Hundreds of workers who are members of six different AFSCME Council 5 locals

WHEN: Monday, May 7, from noon to 1 p.m.

WHERE: Hennepin County Government Center, North Plaza, 300 S. 6th St., Minneapolis

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AFSCME Council 5, Council 65 Endorse Democrat Angie Craig for U.S. House District 2


Two unions representing nearly 60,000 workers – AFSCME Council 5 and Council 65 – have jointly endorsed Democrat Angie Craig for election in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District.

“AFSCME Council 5 is proud to endorse Angie Craig, who will fight side by side with us to make sure we have the freedom to organize, collectively bargain and stand up for our rights,” says John P. Westmoreland, Council 5’s executive director. “Angie will fight to stop the assault on workers and do everything she can to provide people with the freedom and opportunity to join the middle class.”

“AFSCME Council 65 is proud to endorse Angie, who is running to build an even better Minnesota for all of us,” says Serena Vergin, Council 65’s executive director. “She’ll fight for our freedom as workers to organize, collectively bargain and stand up so we can improve life for ourselves, our families and our communities across Minnesota.”

“I’m voting for Angie because she’s smart, hardworking, listens to the people in our district and understands what working class folks are up against," says AFSCME retiree Kathleen Farber. “Angie wants to fix our health care system, protect our pensions and make sure our economy works for everyone, not just the wealthiest 1 percent."

AFSCME Council 5 is a union of 43,000 public and non-profit workers throughout Minnesota. AFSCME Council 65 represents 14,000 workers in Minnesota and South Dakota with more than 300 locals. AFSCME advocates for excellence in public services, dignity in the workplace, and opportunity and prosperity for all working families.

AFSCME Members Stand up for Freedom at Day on the Hill and to End Rigged System


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 19, 2018  

CONTACT: Lynette Kalsnes, 651-287-0537                     

AFSCME Members Stand up for Freedom at Day on the Hill and to End Rigged System

SAINT PAUL — Members of AFSCME Council 5 will pack the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday, March 20 to stand up for their freedom to form strong unions and their freedom to speak up for themselves, their families and their communities.

AFSCME Members Stand up for Freedom and to End Rigged System at Day on the Hill


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2018   

CONTACT: Lynette Kalsnes, 651-287-0537                       


AFSCME Members Stand up for Freedom and to End Rigged System at Day on the Hill

SAINT PAUL — Members of AFSCME Council 5 will pack the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday, March 20 to stand up for their freedom to form strong unions and their freedom to speak up for themselves, their families and their communities.

Union members are under attack from corporate CEOs and wealthy extremists who have rigged the economy and the political system, and now want to stack the deck even more in their favor by silencing workers through court cases and anti-worker amendments, even here in Minnesota. But AFSCME members and their union brothers and sisters refuse to give up their rights.

Council 5 members will gather in a powerful demonstration of solidarity on March 20, carrying signs that shout, “It’s About Freedom!”

“People have the right to stand up for what they believe in, to stand up, organize and form a union,” says Council 5 executive director John P. Westmoreland. “If we’re not going to stand up for our freedom, who is? It’s all about freedom, everyone’s freedom. We have to defend it everywhere, to stand up and say no more loss of human rights, no more loss of human dignity, no more loss of person or place, no more loss of freedom.”

After the Day on the Hill Rotunda rally, members will visit their own senators and representatives to help shape a legislative agenda that will secure an even brighter future for hardworking Minnesotans. Issues include protecting retirement security, retaining and training child protection workers, local control, safe staffing, transportation investment, and approving state worker contracts.

EVENT DETAILS

WHAT: AFSCME Council 5 Day on the Hill

WHO: Hundreds of workers from all across Minnesota will rally in defense of their rights to come together to form strong unions, negotiate a fair return on their work, and speak up for themselves and their communities.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 20, 1:30 to 2 p.m.

WHERE: Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda, 75 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, Minn.

Working People's Day of Action


Feb. 24: Working People Will Rally to End Rigged System As Hundreds Gather in Saint Paul at State Capitol Rotunda

Saturday Event Will Highlight Crucial Role Unions Play in Building Better Lives For Minnesotans as U.S. Supreme Court Prepares to Hear Case Attacking Workers’ Voice

SAINT PAUL—Members and leaders of labor unions, civil rights and faith groups, and community organizations will mobilize for the Working People’s Day of Action rally that’s expected to fill the State Capitol rotunda Saturday morning.

The organizations are standing up for the freedom to join together and work for the common good as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 on Monday. An adverse decision in the case could undermine the right to form strong unions.

Saint Paul’s rally is part of a nationwide day of action with events planned in cities across the country. Activists from the Twin Cities and others from around the state will join the call to end policies that rig the economy and the political system against working people—and in favor of powerful corporate interests and the wealthy elite.

Speakers at the Saint Paul rally will highlight the crucial role that union members play in building better lives for all Minnesotans. “For decades, teachers, nurses, police officers, firefighters and many others who provide the public services we rely on have joined together to speak up for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Mary Falk, an AFSCME member who works at Anoka Technical College. “But those behind the Janus case do not want working people to have that freedom.”

The rally will also recognize the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who 50 years ago in his final campaign supported striking sanitation workers in Memphis as they joined together in a strong union and demanded to be treated with dignity on the job.

EVENT DETAILS

WHAT: Working People’s Day of Action Rally

WHO: The event is co-sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the Service Employees International Union.

Speakers will include: Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter; Mary Cathryn Ricker, AFT executive vice president; an educator talking about how Education Minnesota helps members address student debt; Mary Falk, AFSCME Council 5 member; Asad Aliweyd, executive director New American Development Center; Adrianne Hoffer-Carter, Laborers Local 363 member; Deb Howse, SEIU Minnesota member; Bret Ohnstad, Teamsters Local 320 member; and representatives of other community groups and rights organizations.

WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, 10:30 a.m. to Noon  

WHERE: Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda, 75 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, Minn.

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AFSCME Backs Tina Smith for U.S. Senate


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 13, 2017                        

CONTACT: Jennifer Munt, 651-357-8544

AFSCME BACKS TINA SMITH FOR U.S. SENATE   

Sen. Al Franken announced his decision last week to resign from the U.S. Senate. Today Gov. Mark Dayton chose Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to replace him. AFSCME strongly supports her appointment. Smith will serve until a special election next November, when voters will choose who fills out the remaining two years of Franken’s term. 

“There is no one more qualified or capable than Tina Smith to represent all Minnesotans in the United States Senate,” says Judy Wahlberg, president of AFSCME Council 5. “Tina’s entire career has prepared her for this job at a time when all of us need more strong women in the halls of power.

“Tina is a proven champion for women and working families. She has worked tirelessly for paid parental leave and pay equity. Thanks to Tina, parents can bond with their newborns and women are treated as equals in state service. We need her voice in Washington.”

AFSCME Minnesota Council 5 is a union of 43,000 workers who advocate for excellence in services for the public, dignity in the workplace, and opportunity and prosperity for all working families.

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Republican Tax Giveaways Turn Surplus into Deficit


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 5, 2017                        

CONTACT: Jennifer Munt, 651-357-8544

With today’s forecast showing that Minnesota is facing a $188 million deficit for 2018-19, AFSCME calls on the Legislature to help working people earn a good living and live a good life.

“The Republican majorities put Minnesota in the red by putting big corporations and the wealthy few ahead of everyone else,” says John Westmoreland, executive director of AFSCME Council 5.  “They insisted there wasn’t enough to invest in our health care, our children and tax breaks for the middle class.  They denied medical care to the most vulnerable, but gave away millions to big tobacco, giant corporations and the estates of multi-millionaires.” 

“Republicans left work last session with a big mess and no budget, after taking a 45 percent pay raise for themselves. We call them back to approve a cost-of-living raise for hardworking state employees and to pass a responsible budget that protects Minnesotans from economic downturns and federal cuts.”

AFSCME Council 5 is a union of 43,000 workers who advocate for excellence in services for the public, dignity in the workplace, and opportunity and prosperity for all working families.

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