2024 Day on the Hill: "Progress Through Action!"

In the heart of Minnesota's political landscape, our union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 5 orchestrated an unparalleled demonstration of solidarity and advocacy on behalf and alongside our 43,000 members. Our Day on the Hill stands as a testament to the collective strength and unwavering commitment of nearly 500 union members, retirees, loved ones, and allies. Together, we took a bold stand at the Minnesota State Capitol, not just as individuals, but as a united front championing the rights and well-being of workers across our state.

In addition to our Capitol Rotunda rally where our union is proud to always be one of the biggest gatherings at the State Legislature, our members then headed to meet with dozens and dozens of lawmakers in the House and Senate to push forward our legislative agenda. 

A Rallying Cry for Workers' Rights

As AFSCME Council 5 Interim Executive Director Bart Andersen said, "Our gathering was not just significant in numbers, but it was monumental in purpose, full of joy, and seeking accountability from all lawmakers to fight for our priorities. We voiced our resolute support for groundbreaking legislation that aims to uplift and empower workers in various sectors and retirees." Among the key initiatives we advocated for were:

  • Expansion of Unemployment Insurance: We called for new nation-leading legislation to expand unemployment insurance benefits to striking workers, recognizing the fundamental right to strike as a crucial bargaining tool and ensuring employers cannot financially starve out workers to force them to take a deal. 
  • Enhancements in Earned Sick and Safe Time Law: Our state is a national leader in providing earned sick and safe time that our union was proud to champion, but we know it can do better. We pushed for reforms to address existing loopholes employers are trying to take advantage of, and ensure every worker benefits from this vital protection.
  • Promoting Open and Transparent Government: Advocating for a new law to guarantee openness and transparency in government proceedings, reinforcing the democratic values that underpin our society.
  • Preventing the Closure of CARE Facilities: We stood united against the proposed shutdown of vital CARE facilities in Carlton, St. Peter, and Willmar, emphasizing the importance of these institutions in our community's health and well-being.
  • Protecting our Pensions: We advocated for the protection of our defined-benefit pensions and for the Pension Omnibus Bill that contains many of our union's legislative priorities to expand worker benefits and keep our pensions strong. 

... and so much more! 

Empowering Our Union Through "PEOPLE"

Our Day on the Hill was not only about voicing our demands at the State Legislature; it was also a day of empowerment and growth. We proudly welcomed 37 new PEOPLE MVPs into our fold, individuals ready to contribute their voices and efforts to our cause. This expansion of our union's PEOPLE contributors underscores the growing support for our union and the issues we champion, including holding lawmakers accountable. 

A Show of Solidarity for the Science Museum of Minnesota Workers

In a powerful display of solidarity and joy, we rallied in support of our fellow union members from the Science Museum of Minnesota! These dedicated workers are in the throes of their first contract negotiations, facing an employer who has regrettably stalled progress and has committed multiple Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs). Our massive rally of AFSCME Council 5 union members, retirees, and labor and community allies, served as a clear message: we stand together, we support each other, and we demand fair treatment for all workers.

People Power

Our Day on the Hill was further energized by the presence and speeches of key Minnesota leaders. AFSCME Council 5's Interim Executive Director Bart Andersen and President Eric Hesse led our union in a spirited rally in the State Capitol Rotunda and spoke powerfully at the rally and informational picket with Science Museum of MN workers. Notably, Governor Tim Walz, Secretary of State Steve Simon, State Auditor Julie Blaha, and Senate Majority Leader Erin Murphy lent their voices to our cause, speaking directly to our enthusiastic members at our Capitol Rotunda rally where lawmakers ALL OVER THE CAPITOL could hear our AFSCME Green Machine!

Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman engaged with our members during our morning plenary session, further emphasizing the broad support for our initiatives at the highest levels of state government. The morning's session included a member storytelling panel that were focused on our legislative priorities and connecting them to real workers with real ideas and solutions. That is how our Council forms our legislative agenda. 

Holding the Line and Pushing Forward

Our union has a rich and storied history of political engagement and holding elected officials accountable, which must continue to strengthen. We need all hands on deck from activities throughout our union from screening political candidates for endorsements to regular conversations with elected officials and candidates. Our Day on the Hill was a continuation of that legacy. With a new pro-worker trifecta in power, we seized the moment to push for historic advancements in workers' rights and protections.

Our Path Forward

As we reflect on the massive success of our Day on the Hill, we are reminded of the power of collective action. Our achievements are not just for today; they lay the groundwork for a brighter, more equitable, and inclusive future for all workers in Minnesota. We move forward with renewed vigor, ready to face the challenges ahead, knowing that together, we are an unstoppable force for positive change.

In unity, we not only find strength but also the ability to enact real, lasting change. Let's carry the momentum from this day forward, continuing to fight for the dignity, rights, and well-being of every worker in Minnesota and beyond.