Statement from AFSCME Council 5 Executive Director Julie Bleyhl on COVID-19

First and foremost, the health and safety of all AFSCME Council 5 staff, members, and retirees is my highest priority.

As of today, Minnesota has confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Anoka, Ramsey, Olmstead, Dakota, Carver, Hennepin, and Stearns counties. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is the lead agency in charge of containment and preparedness and have so far tested over 320 Minnesotans with 9 coming back positive at this point in time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and MDH have made it well known that these numbers will change often. The CDC and MDH recommends several ways to stop the spread of this pandemic by thoroughly washing your hands for 20 seconds or more, staying home when you feel ill, and covering your coughs/sneezes.

We as union members are fortunate to have sick leave that is in our collective bargaining agreements, and we will continue to fight for people who do not have access to earned sick and safe time and paid family and medical leave. Minnesota Management and Budget has approved state employees who have exhausted their sick leave, access to paid administrative leave in the event they become ill. We are working on solutions for every sector of our membership.

On Tuesday, Governor Walz signed a bill into law that provides for $21 million to fight the spread of this disease, including funding for virus investigation and monitoring, public information campaigns led by state agencies, and more. I am in touch with Governor Walz and Administration officials on a regular basis. Today, Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan released their supplemental budget request which includes investing in our state’s budget reserve account and further proposed investments in public health initiatives.

I am committed to all of you, as we are one team working towards growing our membership and building true people power from within our locals.

Please go to the following websites for additional information:

Thank you all.


Julie Bleyhl

Executive Director