All employees deserve fair pay, dignity, respect in their job and most share common interests in job security, pay progression, maintaining stable means for themselves and their dependents. It is normal, accepted human nature to want to experience reaching worthwhile goals in life. Not every worker starts in a position where asks magically get granted in full, or start day one so perfectly, fairly compensated -- asking for more is never necessary.  When workers  form consensus, agree at times to participate together, rather than individually, share concerns, doing this gains extra synergy from unified solidarity. An ask by one single person is much easier to overlook than the precisely the exact same ask made compelling as it obviously is comes from many, not one.


AFSCME International in Washington, D.C. maintains records of memberships, which become immediate once  signing (and hand-delivering!) a Sign-up card into custody of a Local officer, or personally handing to Council 5 field rep, perhaps at new employee orientation. Snail-mailed cards have been known to disappear, been found in the snow yards from the postbox, older cards had an obsolete bar code that led to limbo, best if signup cards are delivered person-to-person. On-line sign-up has been possible, by way of Council 5’s MemberLink web page. In some Teamster union locals, membership is only granted after clear understanding all members are expected and required to participate in protecting union interests when necessary, but AFSCME has no such prerequisite. When former IUOE or 49ers alumni join AFSCME at lower pay for some reason, an apparent lack of readiness to militate or show public passions for a better contract stirs interesting discussion. AFSCME membership is voluntary, a personal choice. Playing it safe, avoiding conflict, these are respectable choices. Each member decides if or when they will become a full member, everyone is their own person. Waiting indefinitely to sign a card, never making any openly affirmative gesture that better wages, benefits, and working conditions are an important priority, at some point this clearly signals passivity, apathy, disengagement.  Silence leaves unvoiced motives open to speculation. One can object to being involved, possess very good reasons and principles, yet still be put on the spot to explain their conscience when all contract offers have gone through repetitive member vote rejections, meaning a strike is immanent.


It is not ungrateful or disloyal to want a voice in the workplace. When there isn’t a union, and even if there is one, of course any appointing authority (management) is going to insist on gatekeeping what, where and how often workplace matters get discussed. What employer wouldn't claim that right or firmly insist any matters deserving time and attention were already discussed quietly, completely and finally resolved privately behind closed doors. The Statewide AFSCME contract only recommends Labor and Management can meet, within some minimal schedule, but for that to happen there has to be agreement if, in what way, something deserves meeting about.  At times, infrequent issue of minutes of meetings has reflected how rarely unions succeed in proposing labor/mangement agenda items. If circumstances require changes in pay, pensions, health care, severance, vacations, and holidays, union consent and participation of proposed changes is what accomplishes this legitmately within Minnesota's public sector collective bargaining framework, where duly informed members decide for or against proposed changes.


Having a union ensures that rules are followed and that rules are developed in negotiations or in consultation with the staff they affect. Unfortunately, some of us do not have skilled supervisors, and instead are treated disrespectfully, are discriminated against, or are bullied. Being a part of a union gives us protection from arbitrary supervisory actions relating to unfair performance evaluations, discipline and dismissals. In addition, our contract includes a problem-solving mechanism that addresses workplace issues before they become bigger problems. This allows us to highlight best practices of good supervisors and ensure that we all have a respectful workplace. 


Perhaps the all time most frequently asked union question. The implication is unions never arise natively in workplaces but only exist as "spurious, outside third parties" that do a very limited "service" as troubleshooter heavies carrying water for members handled exclusively as separate individuals, mainly to police perceived wrongs inflicted by one member on another.  In most workplaces, productive business results are closely tied to effectively functioning work groups or teams cooperating together.  This loaded question carries the sentiment unions as "outsider others" are not "us", therefore are unnecessary in well-run outfits with human resource staff ready to resolve or remedy any workplace issues. If you are an individual member who belongs to a union, you actually are “the union” personified and incarnate, in the flesh.  Internally active collective bargaining power and massed momentum, not personnel professionalism by canny outside operators or consultants hired for the job, is what delivers the influence to win affordable health care, wage increases, job security, sick and vacation days, representation in investigatory and disciplinary meetings, and seniority.


By becoming a member, you’re saying that your wages, benefits and working conditions are important. Signing a membership card signals that you care about your job and contract shows your co-workers that you stand together with them. ONLY MEMBERS CAN: Attend union meetings, vote on the contract, have a say in the priorities of the union, hold office or elect leadership, etc. Only AFSCME members can vote in union elections. These include determining leadership – Officers, Executive Board members and Negotiating Committee members – and determining whether to ratify contracts or strike.
Scholarships, Discounts and Other Services: AFSCME members and their families have exclusive access to scholarships; insurance, credit counseling and legal services; and discounts on wireless phone services, health clubs, car rentals, restaurants, and many other products. 


Dues collected from 695 members divide among affiliated bodies, those nominally "AFSCME" follow:
• 30% to AFSCME International
• 60% to MN Council 5
• Only 10% goes to Local

Nearly everything goes to “servicing the contract” – negotiations, contract enforcement with grievances and educating membership about their rights and responsibilities for following contractual terms conditions at work. As the most subordinate body, AFSCME 695 democratically determines, through discussions in executive board and voted motions at membership meetings, what is best to do with 695's10% by way of spending motions. The Local constitution does specify dues, but constitutional changes about dues members approve are subject to "higher" bodies understandably reluctant to reduce what they get and constitutional change attempts reflect this fact. Post-Janus, pan-labor affiliations, AFSCME and AFL/CIO for example, are required by statute and legal decisions to report what percentage of expenditures are "non-chargeable" or not strictly to "service the contract". Minnesota AFL/CIO reported in 2022 that of the $16 per-capita payment per member that that year, only 4.868% went to fund non-chargeable politics or ideology. Legal decisions to date have tracked for and against fair share fees, a recent example in Minnesota shows effort to claw-back, retroactively, dues used "without member permission" could easily lead to a legal way to empty all union treasuries in one Supreme Court decision.


AFSCME 695 is a member-run, member-powered Local built on having a voice both on the job at MnDOT, as well as within AFSCME. In the absence of a Local President, the Local 695 constitution gives the E-board body full Presidential authority to run things, much to the dismay of the employer when they'd much prefer all contact pass through just one influenceable individual.  Ultimately, Members, not some mythic, all-powerful "union boss" autocrat, are the topmost level to make decisions and member participation is the key to success. Members decide collectively what our focus should be in contract negotiations, what we spend our dues money on, what position our union is going to take on the important issues of the day, and what organizations in our communities we are going to work with and support. Commitment to democratic and transparent decision making is what sets AFSCME apart from many other unions. Only members can vote on accepting or rejecting contracts, on electing union leadership – like President, Executive Board and Negotiating Committee Representatives, or whether to accept or reject a proposed contract. To have a voice and be part of the decision-making process simply be a member of AFSCME Local 695. Each of the officers and executive board members of our local work at MnDOT and are elected by the membership. Any member who has been in good standing for one year or more may run and hold an elected position in our union. Our active members direct the activities of our union through their involvement at membership, area meetings and committee work. This is one of the most critical parts of being a union member. 


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