Local 2822 won a major victory for residents and workers. Because workers and the union spoke out, residents are once again receiving in-person help at Health and Human Services (HHS) hubs. Wait times for phone calls have drastically decreased. Our efforts also forced the director of labor relations, Holland Atkinson, to reaffirm our union rights in an email he sent to staff. Workers are allowed to talk to union representatives and to each other about the union. We are allowed to do this on work time.
The press took notice of our struggle. MinnPost published an article about our campaign in early April.
What led to these wins
In December 2022 and January 2023, workers from almost every HHS hub attended meetings with Bobby Jackson, Ashley Everett, and other human services managers. Eight workers spoke out about working conditions, safety concerns, and the lack of support available to county residents. While office support staff have been in the human service hubs since last July, residents have not been able to apply for services or get an interview in person.
Frontline workers and union leaders were met with the usual barriers. Management pretended nothing was wrong despite evidence and testimony. We persisted because we knew each one of us deserves dignity in the workplace:
- We continued to raise the issue with management every month at our “meet and confer”
- We filed grievances on management’s anti-union and disrespectful behavior
- We filed a grievance on FAA’s new “team expectations” that violate our contract
- We requested data on phone wait times, processing times, and staffing levels
- We spoke to upset residents seeking services and encouraged them to contact their county commissioners (residents were happy to see us advocating for them)
- We continued to go to worksites and talk to workers about what needed to change
These efforts culminated in an action at the County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, April 4. Thirteen workers spoke directly to the board calling for safety, services, and more staff at the human services hubs.
Our hard work paid off.
At our April “meet and confer,” management’s hostile tone was gone, replaced by a more conciliatory tone and a willingness to listen to our concerns. Changes are coming. We will continue to mobilize to make sure workers’ and residents’ best interests are primary.