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County union workers demand ‘respect, dignity’

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news Woodbury, 55125

Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

More than 200 Washington County employees signed a petition demanding “dignity and respect in the workplace” and presented it to county officials last week.

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American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) members went before Washington County Board to publicly voice their concerns.

Christine Main, an employment counselor who works in the county’s community services department, presented the petition at the Jan. 7 meeting without going into much detail.

In an interview later she said AFSCME members have been team players during the recession and it’s time they’re rewarded in the next contract.

“The employees made quite a bit of sacrifices to keep the budget in place,” she said, noting that the petition is part of the group’s campaign for the upcoming 2014 contract, which could be a two or three-year contract.

The county is still working through labor negotiations. Once there is a tentative agreement, the board will vote to accept or continue negotiations.

Main collected 220 signatures so far.

“We just want to make sure that the County Board understands that we do our best work when there is dignity and respect in the workplace,” she said.

Labor negotiations are typically done behind closed doors. Commissioner Lisa Weik said officials were advised not to speak publicly or discuss any specifics at this time.

But she said that she welcomes input from all county employees.

“I really value the work of employees,” she said in an interview. “They’re the frontlines.”

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