Council 65 - Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota

Karen Haugen -- Lifetime Achievement Award

Karen worked for Beltrami County Human Services for almost 35 years. She began her employment as a confidential employee & therefore not eligible to belong to the Union at a time when the Human Services employees were in the process of forming a Union with AFSCME Council 65. When they negotiated their first contract, they invited Karen to celebrate with them.

Later Karen took a promotion to a union eligible position & joined what is now AFSCME Local 3709.  She served a couple terms as secretary & was the local president for at least 8 years.  Karen was active during times of great change in Beltrami County labor relations.  The Courthouse employees formed a bargaining unit as a chapter of Local 3709; the Beltrami Central Labor Body was active; a county wide Labor-Management Committee was formed; several contracts were settled using a process known as Interest Based Collective Bargaining.  The county employees formed a strong bond to combat the "divide & conquer" mentality of the county board.

Karen's former co-workers state that she was "the driving force in the local for many years."  "She was never afraid to take on management; she did so in an intelligent & articulate manner.....she asked the hard questions & held the employer accountable....she encouraged & stimulated action..."

Karen faithfully attended C65 conventions, was elected to the C65 Executive Board, serving from 2004 to 2008.  She admits it was a different mindset being the "employer" for C65 staff and it made her realize what went into making the Council a great orgainization.  When C65 held conventions in Bemidji, Karen was there to assist in the preparations.  She was a great help in arranging for Paul Wellstone to address convention delegates early on a Saturday morning just days before his death.

Karen enjoyed the political process -- screening candidates, door knocking, etc.  She participated in volunteer member orgainizing & gained a whole new perspective working with AFSCME Int'l staff.

Karen recalls her most exciting/uplifting experiences at Int'l conventions -- hearing the Clintons speak, seeing Erin Brockovich, the emotional opening ceremony by AFSCME Firefighters from NYC after 9/11, the Actors' Guild reception, the energy & information to bring back to her Local Union, etc.

Karen joined the C65 Retiree Chapter in 2011, is an active member & currently serves on the Chapter's Executive Board.  I'm sure we'll see Karen pitching in as Council 65 plans their 2016 convention back in Bemidji next fall!

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