AFSME Local 602 - MSU Moorhead

The Willmar 8’s AFSCME Connections

Irene Wallin has all kinds of family members who wear AFSCME green.

The Willmar 8 strike against Citizens National Bank was the first time Sandi Treml and Teren Novotny walked a picket line together. It was not the last.

Both women now work at Ridgewater College in Willmar. When state workers went on strike in 2001, Treml and Novotny went with them. “Obviously, we’re not afraid to go on strike,” Novotny jokes. “We’ve done it twice.”

Treml, a member of AFSCME Local 4001, works in registration at Ridgewater. Novotny is a purchasing clerk at the college and treasurer of Local 1801 in the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees.

It runs in the family

It is Irene Wallin’s family, however, that has the deepest AFSCME connections. Wallin’s husband, Monroe, worked at Willmar Regional Treatment Center at the time of the women’s strike. One daughter, Stacy, started there a few years later. As members of AFSCME Local 701, they joined AFSCME’s first statewide strike in 1981.

Another daughter, Susae, now is a member of Local 4001 at Ridgewater College, where she is a custodian. Susae’s husband, Rick Klavetter, works at the regional treatment center and is a steward in Local 701. Both of them were part of the state workers’ strike in 2001.

AFSCME makes its presence known

During The Willmar 8 strike, Wallin says, “we got a lot of help from AFSCME locally – money, and manpower on the picket line, and so forth.” In one memorable incident, she says, AFSCME corrections officers came to town to join the women’s picket line. “They were really big guys,” Wallin says. “Just humongous, and very intimidating.

“The next thing you know, here comes a police car. And he said, ‘Well, we got a little call from the bank that there were some new people out here.’ And I said, ‘Well, they are intimidating, aren’t they?’ Then I told him who they were.

“He just laughed and laughed. So he sat there the entire time, just to make everybody happy.” 

The Willmar 8 made equal pay impossible to ignore

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