MMA Joins the Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Board

MMA is pleased to announce that Robyn Cousin, MMA business representative, has joined the Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Board.

The Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship was created in honor of Nellie Stone Johnson, known and recognized for her pioneering work in the labor movement in Minnesota. Nellie had a long and distinguished record of public service in support of the advancement of minority concerns, the rights of workers, and equal opportunities for all people. Her life was a series of “firsts.” As a leader of organized labor in the 1930s and 1940s, she was the first woman vice-president of the Minnesota Culinary Council and the first woman vice-president of Local 665 Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union. She was also the first black person elected to citywide office in Minneapolis when she won a seat on the Library Board in 1945.

The scholarship program was established by the former Minnesota State University System in 1989, as a part of the universities’ cultural diversity initiative and is now administered by the independent Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Board. The Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship is available to racial minority students from Union families attending or planning to attend one of the 31 technical colleges, community colleges and/or state universities in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System.

Nellie Stone Johnson Upcoming Activities

Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Annual Dinner

MMA will also be participating in the 2015 Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship dinner on Thursday, March 26, 2014 at the Prom Center in Oakdale. The annual dinner is an event to raise funds for the scholarship program recipients. Higher education supporters, labor union activists, legislators and students participate in the event. The dinner honors student recipients and our union sister, Nellie Stone Johnson.

Nellie Stone Johnson Capitol Bust Initiative

The 2014 Legislature and the Governor authorized placing a bust of Nellie Stone Johnson, a nationally-renowned labor and civil rights leader, in a prominent spot in the Capitol. However, $30,000 must be raised to match the amount appropriated by the legislature to make this dream a reality. The Nellie Stone Johnson Bust Committee is half way there thanks in part to a contribution of $3000 from MMA which has joined the campaign.

This will be an opportunity to permanently remind Capitol visitors’, including school children, of the important role labor has played in our state. Nellie Stone Johnson is an excellent choice as she represents many ‘firsts’

  • First prominent labor leader
  • First woman activist/leader
  • First education leader
  • First Minnesota-born African American civil rights leader

MMA is proud to be a sponsor and contributor to what will be a permanent reminder of the important role of labor to the health and vitality of our state.

MMA and its Beginning: Victories Snatched from the Jaws of Defeat

Part 1 The Prequel

In 1979 Middle Management Association, MMA, was a small Department of Transportation Local representing about 200 supervisors.  MMA had bargained one prior contract with the State and was in the midst of bargaining for a 1979-1981 collective bargaining agreement. Bargaining had not gone well and MMA had hired a Labor Relations Attorney to help them.  Having been unsuccessful in reaching a voluntary agreement with the State, MMA exercised its right to request arbitration of its contract dispute.

Arbitrator Tom Gallagher was selected to hear and decide the dispute and a hearing date was set for May 3, 1979.  A couple weeks before the date of the hearing MMA’s labor relations attorney informed them that he now had a conflict of interest and that he could not represent MMA in the upcoming arbitration hearing.  At that point MMA found me and I agreed to help.

I met with the MMA Bargaining Committee, which included Gene Aune, Jim Maas and Jeanne Chasteen, and others whose names I can’t now recall, to prepare the case. Although there were several unresolved issues, it was clear that the biggest issue by far was wages. Read Full Article


Are you curious about how MMA became the exclusive representative of middle management supervisors in the State of Minnesota? Did you know MMA set a precedent by becoming the first association to represent all supervisors in the State of Minnesota?

Read the first installment of a two part series written by MMA’s lawyer, Ron Rollins. Ron was instrumental in winning the interest arbitration that resulted in an above average settlement for the first contract for MMA.

Ron Rollins MMA Lawyer

Ron Rollins MMA Lawyer

Ron Rollins has practiced exclusively in the area of labor law for over thirty years.  He has represented diverse labor groups in both the public and private sectors in all areas of labor relations activities. His clients have included professors, school principals, registered nurses, teamsters, clerical employees, meatpackers, social workers, city and county and school employees, line production workers, football players, symphony players and the newspaper reporters in both cities. Read Full Article

MMA Leadership Retreat Summary

What does the Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Zoo have in common?

MMA supervisors from both agencies attended this year’s MMA Leadership Retreat!

Under the leadership of Gary Kloos, former MMA President and now Executive Director, and the MMA Executive Committee, this year’s MMA leadership retreat took on a new purpose and focus. In addition to MMA Board members, invitations were extended to Local Association leadership and other involved MMA members. As a result there were 58 attendees representing 17 Agencies from across the State.

The theme of this year’s retreat was ‘Mapping the Future of MMA’. In addition to two excellent sessions on leadership and retirement planning, an afternoon was devoted to engaging with members specifically to identify the priorities and goals MMA should have going forward. After a rich discussion and a follow-up survey the top priorities proposed for MMA  are:

  1. Negotiations
  2. Developing MMA’s Identify
  3. Providing general support to Members
  4. Articulating the value of MMA
  5. Providing representation
  6. Developing and implementing a communications plan, and
  7. Raising MMA’s visibility

Immediately after the retreat the staff and Board President met to synthesize and process the experience, and the ideas and thoughts of those attending. Next steps will be developed by the Board and staff in the coming weeks and months. Check back here for updates on our progress.

Karen  Wagner, MMA Past President and Board Member Retires!

Karen Wagner MMA President 2004-2013

Karen Wagner
MMA President 2004-2013

Karen Wagner, longtime MMA Board member and former President has retired effective October 1, 2014 after 37 years of service to the State of Minnesota. Karen was Manager at the Mankato Job Service Office where she started as supervisor in the mid ‘90s. Prior to that, she was Director of the Work and Training Center in West St. Paul. It was in that position that she met her supervisor, Gary Denault, who later became a MMA Executive Director.

It was Richard Swenson, Job Service Manager in Willmar, who recruited her to serve on the MMA Board of Directors in 1996, which happened to be a contract negotiation year. Read Full Article