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The Mike Buesing Local Union Development Award is presented each year to an individual member, local union or group of members or locals who have contributed significantly to internal mobilization

This year we are honoring a member who has exhibited extraordinary service to our union and projected a bold, strong vision of what it means to be a leader, an effective communicator, and a change

Last week, members of AFSCME Local 1307 joined with members of MNA and MAPE at the Anoka Metro Regional Treatment Center (AMRTC) for an informational picket. Workers at AMRTC stood together to protest unsafe working conditions at the facility and to hold management accountable to protecting workers on the job.

“We have a lot of dedicated health workers here who are committed to doing a great job serving our patients, said Lance Lemieux, the outgoing president of AFSCME Local 1307. “But we want to make sure we have the tools to do it, and that we’re safe in doing it.”

As AFSCME Local 66 celebrates the union’s 100th anniversary this year, members are looking back on their union’s long, rich history – and how it’s impacted their lives, families and communities. For Sandy Pernu Wallin, the AFSCME connection runs deep. Sandy – a second generation Local 66 member - is organizing her AFSCME siblings to carry her family’s passion for union activism into the local’s next century.

For 30 years, Sandy’s mom Mitzie Pernu worked as a 911 dispatcher in Virginia, MN and was a passionate activist in Local 66.

Some people have wild stories about their coworkers. Jill’s, though, are unique.

Jill Erzar is a zookeeper at Como Zoo in St Paul. Her coworkers are giraffes, bison, reindeer, kudu, zebra, and other hooved animals of all shapes and sizes.

Growing up, Jill always loved animals. She considered becoming a veterinarian, and was studying animal health in college before she took an internship at Como Zoo.

“By Day Two, I was a goner,” Jill said. “I knew this was what I wanted to do.”

Minnesota winters are tough. In Rochester, several blizzards brought the entire town to a standstill. Major roads and highways were closed, sometimes for days at a time.

When weather makes it unsafe to travel, Jeff Paulson – better known as Scuffy – hits the road. Scuffy works at MnDOT District 6, which covers Southern Minnesota. In the summer, Scuffy and his MnDOT team inspect bridges, maintain signage, and fix potholes and other road damage. But in the winter, they plow snow.

Last summer, paid leave bought Justin and Amanda Aurelius something priceless: time off together with their new baby.

“It’s been the best time,” said Justin. “It’s like winning a lottery ticket, the time with your family, the bonding. We’re very lucky.”

The Granite Falls couple’s situation was much different following the birth of their first child, Marvin. Justin didn’t qualify for paid parental leave, and Amanda had a job in the private sector.

Last year, Heather Lynch and Emily Erpelding got some disturbing news. The morning began like most other days for these young moms and classroom assistants at the University of Minnesota’s Child Development Center: Emily spent the day caring for kids in the infant room, while Heather spent her day off with her son, who was home for a snow day.

Then, Emily’s supervisor entered the room and told her, “Go check your email”. At home, Heather also noticed she had a new message. They were both shocked to learn that the CDC was closing – and their jobs would soon disappear.

While we’re known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota could just have easily adopted the moniker ‘Land of Abundant and Delicious Walleye,’ and no one this side of the Wisconsin border would have batted an eye.

Each spring, anglers across Minnesota gear up for one of our state’s most popular pastimes: walleye fishing. But for AFSCME members who work at DNR fish hatcheries, walleye season never ends. From spawning eggs to stocking our beautiful lakes with finger-sized adolescent walleye, our DNR workers labor year-round to ensure a plentiful walleye season for the rest of us.

AFSCME Local 66 encompasses most of St. Louis County and the Iron Range and is made up of 19 bargaining units, with a membership comprised of workers from all walks of life – from the sanitation workers who keep our communities clean and healthy, to social workers who travel the region caring for our vulnerable and elderly.