AFSCME Local 34 Member News

                     

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New Stewards: Bill Fernow and Jamoda Acevedo were sworn in as our newest Local 34 stewards at our General Membership meeting on October 11th. 

Rick Scott Political Activism Award: Congratulations to this year’s Council 5 award recipient! We are honored to present the Rick Scott Political Activism Award to Local 34 President Jean Diederich. Jean was honored at the AFSCME Council 5 convention. The award was established in 1997 to be given annually to a member who performs outstanding service to AFSCME in the area of political action on behalf of working families. The award honors Rick Scott, the first Political Action Director for AFSCME in Minnesota. 

Labor/Management HealthCare Committee and consensus based bargaining: Two representatives from each of the 17 bargaining units will meet with representatives from Benefits and Labor Relations starting July 13th to begin the consensus based bargaining process for our 2018 health insurance. As we did last year, we will look at the report from Milliman summarizing our actual usage and projecting possible trend costs for 2018. We use that report along with the information we receive on a monthly basis as we explore what changes, if any, could be made to the premium costs and plan design. Kathy Kelly and Jean Diederich will represent our local in this process. Your comments shared last year helped us during the process so we ask that you again share your comments about the health insurance plans with us now. Having your concerns in front of us when we discuss those concerns with other members of the committee is extremely helpful.

Union bulletin boards: Per the terms of our contract we should have a bulletin board on every floor where we work for posting of our union news, our newsletters and announcements of union activities. Could all of you please take the time to look around your work area and let President Jean Diederich know if there is a bulletin board dedicated to our union information? We want to find out which areas do not have one so that we can get one installed. Our hope is to be able to get the same pieces of information out across the county to every work site in a timely fashion. Thank you in advance for your assistance on this piece of member education.

Good & Welfare Committee: Donna Ronning and Robert Warmboe have been appointed to serve as our Good & Welfare folks. They join Amanda Abell in providing recognition of important life events to our members. Please join us in thanking them for stepping forward and taking on this task. You should send your request to the three of them.

Local 34 Vice President resignation: Kathy Kelly has submitted her resignation as Vice President of Local 34 effective 7/5/17. That resignation has been accepted. This means that the Executive Board will fill that position with a special election at our August 16, 2017 meeting. That meeting is held at HSB 917 at 5:30 PM. Any dues paying member in good standing is eligible to put their name forward for that election. If you would like to know more about what the duties and responsibilities the position are please contact President Jean Diederich. If you are interested in being a candidate for the position please contact Jean by no later than August 14, 2017. Please join us in thanking Kathy for her service to the local over the years.

Congratulations to Michael LaCoste: Please join us in congratulating our Field Representative, Michael LaCoste, on his promotion to Acting Organizing Director for AFSCME Council 5. His promotion was effective June 20, 2017. We will miss his presence at our meetings and his words of advice to our officers and stewards and his very even keeled approach to the myriad of issues that crop up in our work lives. However, our loss is our gain as he will be working with the Organizing staff at the Council to bring more employees into our AFSCME ranks. The more members we have the stronger we are when we are advocating for better working conditions or negotiating our contracts. 

New Local 34 Field Representative: A new Field Representative has been assigned to AFSCME Local 34 as a result of the promotion of Michael Lacoste to the position of Director of Organizing at AFSCME Council 5. Our new staff person is Jolene Catudio. She may be reached by phone at 651-287-0527or at  Jolene.catudio@afscmemn.org.  Michael will be available to her to make the transition go smoothly. Welcome Jolene! 

Council 5 Offers Social Media Training: Did you know that the Council 5 Communications Department offers customized one-on-one and small group trainings to help your local make the most out of social media? The trainings are free and flexible. It’s a great way to build solidarity within your local. Email Trisha Harms to get started.

Member Action Teams: Local 34 will continue our efforts to develop Member Action Teams (MAT) during 2017. The structure is aimed at fostering communication, networking and organizing for our members. Our goal is to have 80 MAT leaders by the end of 2017. Contact Deb Konechne, Local 34 Membership Secretary for more information and to express your interest in becoming a MAT leader. Contact Deb at deblkon@yahoo.com or Deborah.Konechne@hennepin.us or call her at 612-816-4321.  

Labor Lunches: Local 34 will continue organizing/training days with Labor Lunches for members at various worksites throughout Hennepin County. Contact Deb Konechne for dates/times/locations. The first date is tentatively set for 2/23/2017 at the Health Service Building (HSB), 525 Portland Avenue South, Mpls. Later dates will include a variety of other work locations. All members are welcome!  

New Employee Orientations: Local 34 will also continue with union introductions in conjunction with other AFSCME locals at New Employee Orientations. Welcome cards with information about meetings and ways to get more involved will be sent to all new members beginning in January. If you or anyone you know if interested in Organizing, NEO or the Welcoming Committee, contact Deb Konechne.  

Picnic Organizers Seek Donations: The AFSCME Family Picnic needs donations and volunteers. Mark your calendars for August 20, 1 to 5 p.m. If you’d like to contribute, contact Council 5 Executive Board member Duane Gatzke at 651-472-2787 or send him an email

Lawmaker Plans to Push for More Distance Between Officers and Families in Child Protection Removal Process: Minnesota's child protection system is in the middle of a major overhaul to better care for vulnerable kids. State leaders have dozens of goals they hope to accomplish, including one lawmaker's idea he believes could improve race relations between kids and police. Representative Ron Kresha wants to look into putting child protection workers in charge of removing kids from abusive and neglectful homes instead of law enforcement officers. In troubling times, nearly everyone is searching for solutions. "We have to look at trying to build better relations," Kresha said. Read more  

Union Leadership Program: Christina Eichorn and MiKayla Handley have been selected to attend the LES Minnesota Union Leadership Program for 2016 - 2017. 

Did You Know? If you are an AFSCME member, you have benefits and discounts available to you. Check them out on the AFSCME web page. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on AFSCME Advantage to find what is out there.  

Resignation: Local 34 regretfully accepted the resignation of Britany Bullock from our Executive Board as she begins a new career working for AFSCME Council 5.  

Acting Appointment: Miguel Salazar, Local 34 Recording Secretary, is on a 6 month assignment as an acting supervisor. Christina Eichorn will fill in as acting secretary effective 7/1/2016.  

Newsletter Editor: Ali (Alexandra) Marzolf began her duties starting with the June/July 2016 newsletter. Please join us in thanking her for stepping forward to serve in this position. If you have suggestions for newsletter ideas or have an article for a future edition, you can send them to her at Alexandra.marzolf@hennepin.us. Please join us in congratulating Ali and thanking her for all the hard work she will be putting in to the future editions of this important piece of our local’s communications.  

AFSCME Strong on the Rise: 86% of Local 34 are now full members of our union. AFSCME Strong is our program to determine our own destiny by building a stronger union with members who are more engaged. Sign a membership card to protect your job, defend our rights and preserve the quality of services we provide our communities. Our goal is to reach 94% membership. Contact any of the officers or stewards to sign a card or plan to attend one of the AFSCME Strong trainings.

Stewards Meeting: The next meeting is scheduled for October 13, 2016. 

Thank You:  Dear Members: A heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated during the long contract campaign to secure our new contract. If you signed a petition, or asked coworkers to sign, filled out a survey, attended a meeting or a labor lunch and added your voice, put up posters in your worksite, or wore green on Tuesdays, talked to coworkers, participated in the rallies, participated in info pickets at worksites, packed the commissioner meetings or called your commissioner, your efforts on any and every level were outstanding and made a tremendous impact.

Just to highlight a few of the things we all did together during the contract campaign:

The list could go on and on, but together these and all your efforts showed the strength and commitment of our members, showed management that we are engaged, and let management know our needs for our work conditions, our wages and our contract . Please stay engaged, we have much more ahead of us to build the strength of our union. If you want to get more involved, please contact myself or other union reps, please come to our monthly Local 34 GA meetings or monthly EEO meetings to find out how to be more involved. Together we are STRONGER! In Solidarity, Deb Konechne, Local 34 Membership Secretary, Member, EEO Committee 

Child Proterction Workers Are Angels: When you look at everything our child protection workers do in the course of a week, the math becomes a bit staggering. Theoretically, social workers in Hennepin County and across the state work 40 hours a week. But in reality, that number is often much higher.

An average week can include: 

  1. Performing a home visit for every family that’s part of a worker’s caseload, up to three times a month, lasting an hour each trip plus travel time.

  2. Attending anywhere from one to six court hearings a week, each requiring a few hours of waiting time and about four hours to complete a pre-hearing report.

  3. Driving children to supervised visits with their parents and monitoring them, roughly three hours per visit.

  4. Setting up doctor and dentist appointments, which can involve driving the children and waiting for them, too.

  5. Spending four hours a week referring families to services such as counseling or drug treatment.

  6. Spending 1-2 hours a week setting up chemical dependency assessments.

  7. Acting as the coordinator between agencies who helps children and families, including police, the courts and other social services.

Consider that workers in Hennepin County handle up to 18 cases each, and you have to multiply those numbers many times over. 

Even after working 60 hours, I wonder how I accomplished everything I did, but I still have a to-do list of 35 to 40 things,” says child protection social worker Sara Crotteau. “It’s like a constant cycle. You can’t be successful in this job if you can’t be OK with that. You’re never going to leave at the end of the day feeling like there’s nothing left to do.” 

Workers see kids and parents at their most vulnerable in the worst of circumstances. They see children who are left alone, who don’t have enough food, who have addicted parents, who are physically or sexually abused. 

Like many Minnesota counties, Hennepin is experiencing high turnover from rising numbers of abuse and neglect reports, overwhelmed workers and increased demand for more paperwork on top of it all.  

“We have workers who will never admit it, but they are online doing their documentation at 2 in the morning,” says AFSCME Local 34 president Jean Diederich. “We have workers who don’t have a life. They are losing their vacation time: They’re afraid if they take it, something will fall through the cracks. They’re so afraid of something bad happening to a kid on their watch. They live under that constant fear. 

“It takes such a special person,” Diederich says. “They’re all angels. They may not have wings we can see, but anyone who does this as a livelihood, they’re doing this to keep kids safe.”  Read more

Related Articles:

Rally to support child protection social workers

Spike in abuse reports overwhelms Hennepin County child protection system

Child protection staffing expands to 24/7 in Hennepin County  

New Local 34 Executive Board Member: We have a new Member-at-Large, Christina Eichorn. She was elected by our Local 34 Executive Board this evening, 5/18/16.  Christina’s term will run May 2016 through April 2017.

New Newsletter Editor: We have a new Newsletter Editor who was selected by our Local 34 Executive Board on 5/18/2016. Ali Marzolf will begin her duties with the May 2016 newsletter. If you have any ideas or suggestions for what you would like to see  in the newsletter, please send them to her at alexandra.marzolf@hennepin.us.

Local 34 Officer Election  Results: Our new Treasurer will be Paul Madison. Our new Members-at-Large will be Brittany Bullock, Brenda Louise and Kay Powell. They took their oath of office at the May 4, 2016 General Assembly along with the other officers and stewards who begin their terms of office this month. Please join us in thanking Angel Alexander for putting her name forward for the Treasurer  position and Christina Eichorn for putting her name forward for the Member-at-Large  position. We are very fortunate to have members who care enough about their fellow members to run for office. Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.

PEPSA: Our union fights hard to make sure we will have a healthy pension when we retire but this is an ongoing and constant battle.  PEPSA, Public Employee Pension Services Association, is another organization that stays on top of anything that affects our pension, keeping an eye out for any proposed changes to our pension and advocating on our behalf to make sure it is there when we retire. Like any organization, they need funding for their work.  If you are not a member already, please consider joining.  Your annual dues can be withheld from your paycheck. 

Are You a PEOPLE Contributor? To make your voice heard in the political arena at the local, state and national levels - where policies affecting your collective bargaining rights, health care, benefits and retirement security are set - we need a strong political action fund. And that is AFSCME PEOPLE. The dollars you voluntarily contribute to AFSCME PEOPLE help us win - and hold on to those rights. Whether we are public or private sector workers or retirees, a strong political presences is vital to our existence as a union. AFSCME PEOPLE is our political action fund. Your contributions, along with the contributions of thousands of fellow AFSCME members from around the country, help to give us the ability to fight for our rights, negotiate better contracts and preserve our economic security when we retire.  JOIN AFSCME PEOPLE today! Your contribution of as little as $4.00 a pay period makes you a PEOPLE MVP and helps us elect politicians who share working family values and hold them accountable.  Please contact our Membership Secretary, Deb Konechne, to-day to sign up for PEOPLE.

Acting Chief Steward: Please note that Mara Ssengendo has been appointed to serve as our Acting Junior Chief Steward as of May 1, 2016. She is stepping into the position while our current Junior Chief Steward, Tywanna Gray, takes an Acting Position as Supervisor for the next six months. Mara will perform all the duties of the office and will work with our Senior Chief Steward, Kela Williams. Any questions that you would have directed to Tywanna and Kela should now be directed to Mara and Kela. They will work together on steward assignments as needed for grievances. Please join us in thanking Mara for stepping in while Tywanna is in her acting assignment. And join us in wishing Tywanna well as she explores this opportunity to further develop her job skills.

Meet & Confer: As you are aware, we are changing our approach to our monthly Meet & Confers with the Employer. Based on the past several years, we noted that the majority of our time was spent on two arears— issues pertaining to the Human Service Representative job classes and issues pertaining to the Social Worker job classes. Very little of our time has been spent on other issues. Beginning in May we will hold separate Meet & Confers - one on the first Thursday of each month to discuss items for the Human Service Representatives and one on the third Thursday of the month for those issues pertaining to the Social Worker job classes. We will still continue to bring issues forward as they crop that are global to all job classes. Our sister locals 2822 and 2864, will also continue to bring their issues forward. The agreement is that they will bring them as needed to the meetings on the first Thursday of the month.  Kathy Kelly, Kela Williams and Mara Ssengendo will be responsible for meeting with HSR’s to identify and gather information on issues that pop up.  Laura Ross and Andrea Lazo-Rice will be responsible for meeting with Social Workers to identify and gather information on issues that occur for the myriad of the Social Worker job classes. Please look for notices of meetings to share your concerns as they are scheduled.

Local 34 Elections: You will be sent a notice about the 2016 officer elections around the middle of January 2016.  Vicki Moore will serve as the Nominations Chair and Alex Erickson wills serve as the Elections Chair. Nominations will be taken at both the February 3, 2016 and March 2, 2016 General Assembly meetings. The following officer positions will be open for nominations: President, Vice-President, Chief Steward, Treasurer, Sergeant At Arms, Member-at-large (3 positions), Trustee (1 position). If you think you might be interested please contact Vicki Moore.You must be a full member for at least one year to run for an office position. Click here to read the election notice.

Congratulations: Kenneth Garnier, MN Young Workers Group Representative and member of AFSCME Local 34, recently took the oath of office as the newest member of the MN AFL-CIO Board. "I'm honored to have been selected to serve on the AFL-CIO general board. The future gets brighter every day."

Meet and Confer Meetings with Employer: We have an extensive list of topics for future Meet & Confer Sessions. A full listing of topics can be seen in the Local 34 December Newsletter. We have an agreement with the Employer that we will have separate Meet & Confer Sessions for both Social Worker and Human Service Representative issue because they continue to lead the list of topics that we bring to the table every month.

AFSCME Local 34 Treasurer Stepping Down: The year is winding down and the business of our local for 2015 is winding down with it. Our Treasurer, Patrick Regan, will be working on closing the books for 2015. Let us all wish him luck as he balances the numbers. It is a job that he is leaving when his term expires at the end of April 2016. If anyone is interested in asking him what the job entails, feel free to contact him. He has put together a nice summary of the job duties and when financial items are due.  

Congratulations! Kathy Kelly, AFSCME Local 34 Vice-President, was elected to the vacant County Sector seat on the AFSCME Council 5 Executive Board. She was sworn in by Executive Director Eliot Seide and began serving her term immediately thereafter.   

Talk Up Our Union at the State Fair! Want to get into the State Fair for free? Then volunteer at AFSCME’s kiosk at the Minnesota AFL-CIO Labor Pavilion. This year, Council 5 members and retirees will celebrate the good things unions do for workers and for our communities. Volunteers help staff our kiosk for 3-1/2 hours; the rest of the day is theirs. Volunteers get free admission and an AFSCME t-shirt. Details: This year’s fair runs from Thursday Aug. 27 until Labor Day, Monday Sept. 7. We’ve got shifts available on most days from 12:30-4 p.m. or from 4-7:30 p.m. We’ll also provide training in advance. If you want to join us, email your preferred day and shift to Michael Kuchta.

Congratulations! Please join us in congratulating Paul Madison who was elected at our June Executive Board meeting to fill the vacant Member-at-Large seat.

New Stewards Appointed! Senior Social Workers Alexander O. Gordon and Cassandra Dutrieuille. The Chief Stewards are looking to fill up to 8 more steward positions. In particular, they’re interested in finding more Social Workers and Child Protection Social Workers interested in working with and helping colleagues - there have been many grievances directed at Social Workers recently, and there are ongoing issues that good, committed Social Worker Stewards could help address.

Local 34 Officer and Meeting Updates! President Diederich will be out for a month, starting June 26th, for knee surgery. In Jean's absence, Laura Ross, our first Vice President, is in charge with the able assistance of Kathy Kelly, our second Vice President as well as our other officers and stewards. The regular July Executive Board meeting has been canceled. An abbreviated meeting will be held during the Executive Board's upcoming retreat.

Co-Chief Steward Acting Position! The Executive Board approved the appointment of Paul Madison to serve in an acting position as Co-Chief Steward while Kela Williams is on maternity leave this summer. Paul will be working closely with Kela and Tywanna Gray, Co-Chief Steward, to ensure that the needs of our members are met during this period.

Good & Welfare: Marcia Dietz is stepping aside and Amanda Abell is out on maternity leave. Jean Diederich will cover for now, and volunteers should contact Jean.

March Labor Lunch! Deb Konechne reported on the very successful March Labor Lunch, which attracted nearly 100 attendees from most Hennepin locals, featuring the topic of Wage Theft. If you received the Hours tracking sheet, please complete it and return it to Deb or Jean Diederich. By June, it’s planned that we’ll conduct labor lunches in the buildings around the Wage Theft topic.   

Local 34 Election Results! It is official. The ballots have been counted and our elections Chair, Wes Volkenant, reports that Angel Alexander, Kenneth W. Garnier and Sharon Streeter have been elected to the three 2-year term officer positions on our Local 34 executive Board. Their term of office begins today, May 1, 2015. Please join me in congratulating them and in thanking them as well as Mohamed Falag for putting their names forward for the election. Thank you to Wes Volkenant, Elections Chair, and to Kathy Kelly and Patrick Regan who helped to count the ballots last night. ~ Jean Diederich, Local 34 President

Negotiations is About to Get Started! Here is a brief refresher of how AFSCME negotiations work in Hennepin County: Each of the seven AFSCME locals - 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864, and both parts of 2938 - combine together as the Hennepin Policy Committee to organize our negotiations, any potential strike and the educational/action efforts during negotiations. Any member of Local 34 in good standing may be part of the large “Master Committee” the next few months, developing our proposals for the next contract. From this group, each local chooses a small number (usually 5-7 for Local 34) to be on the “Table Team.” The Table Team meets face-to-face with the Employer’s representatives, and later through a mediator, to reach an agreement by November. The Master Committee then meets again and recommends acceptance or rejection of the offer. Contact Jean Diederich, President, Local 34 if you are interested in learning more or becoming involved in negotiations.

Do You Have What it Takes to Put Out a Local 34 Newsletter Each Month? Editor Wes Volkenant recently informed the Local 34 E-Board that he intends to step down as Editor sometime in 2015, if the Local finds an interested member who’d like to take on this opportunity – or challenge, and if the Local decides to continue putting forward a regular newsletter for its membership. Perhaps my successor might be you! If you’re interested, Wes would be happy to show you what he does each month to put these editions of the newsletter before the membership. E-mail Wes or President Jean Diederich to express your interest!

Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarships – A Labor and Education Partnership! Applications for the 2015-2016 academic year are now being accepted. The Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship is available to 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. Applications must be postmarked no later than June 1, 2015 to be considered. Read more

A Pledge to Each Other! A record 168 presidents and other top officers of AFSCME Council 5 locals met to learn firsthand of legal and political challenges that can undermine our union. Recently 360 delegates to the State Negotiations Assembly worked through the nitty-gritty of drafting proposals that will improve their contracts with the State of Minnesota. The local presidents started developing tactics that will enable them to build allegiance and commitment among their co-workers to each other and to their union. The state delegates started developing the tactics that will enable them to advance principles and proposals that improve their pay, benefits, and working conditions. The two efforts have one theme in common: The only way for public employees to preserve and expand a good life for ourselves, our families, and our communities is to use our strength in numbers to achieve together what we cannot achieve on our own. And to prove what we can get done together, a “pass the hat” collection raised more than $9,000 to benefit two AFSCME families: Jerry Firkus, a member of Moose Lake Corrections Local 1092, and his family are recovering from a fire that destroyed their house this week. Mark Baker, a member of Rush City Corrections Local 1539, is recovering from an auto accident that left him partially submerged in an icy creek for four hours. ~ AFSCME Council 5

MSSA Delegates! The following union members were elected at the January General Membership meeting to represent Local 34 through our membership in the Minnesota Social Service Association: Grace A Baltich,  John Herzog, Andrea C Lazo-Rice, Lynn Lyons, Kay Powell, Wes Volkenant.

Month of Service - Keeping the Dream Alive! Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 after marching with our fellow AFSCME members, the sanitation workers who were on strike as they fought to improve their lives by improving their working conditions. To commemorate the sacrifices of the sanitation workers and Dr. King, Council 5 is organizing a “month of service” this spring. The goal is a unified, statewide effort showing how we AFSCME members improve lives in our communities when we are off the clock. The plan is for members to take part in a volunteer or community service activity where we work or live between March 25th and April 24th. We can do this with coworkers, families and friends and may be some-thing that we are already doing such as keeping our block clean, serving in a food kitchen, helping at your child’s school, etc. We will discuss this at the February 4th General Assembly meeting. Please bring your suggestions for possible activities to the meeting. 

Wage Increase! The second year of 2.5% wage increases took effect in January, as does the new .25% dues increase the local approved in November. With the first steps towards negotiations beginning shortly, be aware of the wages, benefits and deductions that influence your pay.

Negotiations is About to Get Started! Here is a brief refresher of how AFSCME negotiations work in Hennepin County: Each of the seven AFSCME locals - 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864, and both parts of 2938 - combine together as the Hennepin Policy Committee to organize our negotiations, any potential strike and the educational/action efforts during negotiations. Any member of Local 34 in good standing may be part of the large “Master Committee” the next few months, developing our proposals for the next contract. From this group, each local chooses a small number (usually 5-7 for Local 34) to be on the “Table Team.” The Table Team meets face-to-face with the Employer’s representatives, and later through a mediator, to reach an agreement by November. The Master Committee then meets again and recommends acceptance or rejection of the offer. Contact Jean Diederich, President, Local 34 if you are interested in learning more or becoming involved in negotiations.

Local 34 Dues Amendment Adopted! Members attending the Local 34 General Assembly meeting last night heard the second reading of the proposed amendment to our Constitution to increase the dues from 1.0% to 1.5% effective January 1, 2015. A motion was moved and seconded to approve that change. After some discussion, an amendment of 1.25% was made, seconded and, after further discussion, passed.  That amended the proposal to 1.25% which, after even further discussion, was approved by the members in attendance. So, there will be an increase in our dues effective 1/1/15 from 1.0 % of gross wages to 1.25% of gross wages. I would like to thank everyone who shared their comments and concerns with all of the officers and stewards over the past month. Members who attended the meeting came to address those concerns and everyone who was there was able to weigh in on the issue. Thank you to the Budget & Finance Committee, headed by Angel Alexander, for tackling this tough issue and bringing forward proposed language. ~ Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34    

New Member-at-Large! Sharon Streeter has been elected to fill the vacant Member-at-Large position. Her term of office begins on December 1, 2014. Please join us in welcoming her to the Executive Board as well as thanking her for being willing to step up to serve all of Local 34. Sharon is a Senior Human Services Representative and is currently located at Century Plaza.

Local 34 Newsletter Changes! The Executive Board has decided that beginning with the October 2014 issue, our newsletter will no longer be distributed in paper version to each individual member. The PDF version will be made available to each of you through e-mail links via unit representatives. We are in the process of building an “e-tree” – similar to a phone tree but with e-mail addresses – with a contact from every team/unit in our local to receive notices of the newsletter being ready, flyers, etc. and then share them with the team/unit.  If you are willing to serve as that person for your unit, please send an e-mail to Kay Powell, kay.powell@hennepin.us.  Our goal is to be able to get our information shared as quickly as possible. Until that system is in place you can contact our Newsletter Editor, Wesley Volkenant, and he will email you a notice once the newsletter has been posted on the Local 34 website. You can also view all copies of our Local 34 newsletters dating back to 2002 on this website. A shorter version of our newsletter will also be posted on all union bulletin boards in your work areas.

Good News From Your Union! Hennepin County has agreed that there will be no premium increase for all health plans in 2015. This is in part due to the extraordinary performance of the self-insurance plan negotiated four years ago. It also has to do with members being healthier, so all those wellness activities are starting to pay off. Hennepin County Medical Center/NorthPoint is a new network option available with Advantage! Find out more about this network for Hennepin County employees that will cost 10% less than the Standard plan and 5% less than other Advantage plan.

Local 34 Banner Distribution Changes: The September issue of the Local 34 Banner is a milestone issue! The Executive Board has decided that beginning with the October 2014 issue, this newsletter will no longer be distributed in paper version to each individual member. Rather, about 200 copies will be printed—primarily for bulletin boards at our job sites. The PDF version will be made available to each of you through e-mail links via unit representatives. If you don’t have a mailed link for that issue by October 1st, please contact Jean Diederich, Local 34 President.  

Negotiations! Planning for contract negotiations will begin in 3/2015. The first negotiation session with the county is tentatively scheduled for 8/15/2015. 

Lateral Movement for HSRs! HSRs have an opportunity to change where they work if they want to. HSRs may complete a survey and request the work place of their choice (not required). An interview may be required for specialty positions.

Open Enrollment! Open enrollment for health care will be held in 11/2014.

AFSCME Family Scholarship! Graduating high school students who are children and financially dependent grandchildren of full dues-paying AFSCME members may now apply for the AFSCME Family Scholarship. Download an application here. Application deadline is December 31. 

Education, Engagement, and Outreach! Our next AFSCME EEO meeting will be held on October 6, 5:30 - 7:30 pm at the Health Services Building, Room 110.  The agenda items include: Labor Lunch, Strikes, Workplace Issues and Organizing.

AFSCME Members Donate to Local Food Shelf! A heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to AFSCME’s food drive for Neighbors Inc. We raised $10,721.63 and collected 23 bags of groceries, far surpassing last year’s donations. Food shelf director John Kemp had tears tumbling down his cheeks. Our generosity will help him restock bare shelves. Neighbors Inc. assists more than 600 families each month in Inver Grove Heights, South St. Paul and West St. Paul. Our timely donations will help union members who are out of work after the Rainbow Foods sell off and the Dakota premium plant closure.

Scholarship Winner! AFSCME Council 5 scholarship winners were announced at Council 5’s Annual convention. Calista DePauw, daughter of our very own Local 34 member, Catherine Rinaldo, is a winner! Congrats to Calista from all of us in Local 34.

Five For The Fight! AFSCME Council 5 Convention delegates voted overwhelmingly Friday to increase Council5’s per capita rate by $5 a month beginning Jan 1, 2015. The “FIVE FOR THE FIGHT” increase is the first constitutional increase since 2005. An increase in the per capita payment does not automatically mean individual member dues will increase. Any dues increase would be handled on a local-by-local basis.

New Local 34 Chief Steward: Please join us in congratulating Tywanna Gray on her election at our last Local 34 Executive Board meeting to fill the Senior Chief Steward position.  She brings her years of service as a Local 34 steward and activist to her new role. The Member-at-Large position remains vacant.

New Welcome Committee: Local 34 has a new Welcome Committee for new employees, composed of Stewards Tywanna Gray, Margo Blay Bugbee and Sheila Lipsco, and Member-at-Large Deborah Konechne. They work in conjunction with the EE&O Committee and the Membership Secretary, Heather Hemmer.

CPSW Positions Added: Thirty-three additional CPSWs in three new units have been added to the 2015 budget: a new Induction unit, and both a new Field and Investigative Unit will start in 2015.

10 Year Anniversary Time Capsule: Council 5 is creating a 10 Year Anniversary Time Capsule to celebrate our historic merger as Council 5. Have a contribution? Bring it to the Council office by September 5th, where it will be digitized and then returned to you, for inclusion in the Capsule before its unveiling at the Council 5 Convention.

Facebook Administrator: Amanda Abell has been approved as our new Local 34 Facebook page Administrator. This is a “Closed” group, so contact Amanda to request access.

Budget & Finance Committee: The Budget & Finance Committee reported that meetings have commenced for the year, and they are diligently working to flesh out what a membership dues increase would look like, based on 2015 wages. A presentation of sample dues increases with discussion will be presented at the September 3rd General Membership meeting. The 2015 Local 34 budget recommendation is pending.

Minnesota Union Leadership Program: Barb Kucera, Labor Education Service Director, informed President Jean Diederich in a letter dated July 21, 2014, that three Local 34 members have been selected to participate in the Minnesota Union Leadership Program for 2014-2015. Congratulations to Deborah Diggins, Lakisha Perkerson and Brenda Braswell!

CPSW Standards Changed: Hennepin County Human Resources approved a change in the minimum qualifications for Child Protection Social Worker to recognize a Bachelor’s Degree and 10 years of experience in Child Protection on a par with a Master’s Degree and relevant experience effective 6/14/2014.

Local 34 Seniority Report: An updated Seniority Report from Hennepin County for the members of AFSCME Local 34 is now available on the Labor Relations website. Please take the time to find your job title and check out your seniority date. If you feel that your date is not correct, please send me an e-mail with your name, your employee ID number, that date on the list and why you feel it is wrong. I will compile a list and forward to Labor Relations for investigation. Any responses from Labor Relations will, in turn, be routed through me and sent back to you. Any request for review of your seniority date should be sent to me by no later than September 1, 2014. Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34 

Hennepin County Insurance Premium Holiday: The Hennepin County Board adopted a motion to have a three pay check holiday from paying health insurance premiums – both for the employees and the employer. What this means is that you will have no deduction for health insurance from the pay checks for August 1, August 15 and September 12. When the recommendation was originally made, it was for a two pay check holiday. The Chair of the Board, Commissioner Mike Opat, noted that we could afford a three pay check holiday. “Over the past five years, the county's health insurance premiums have been significantly less than the industry average and have reflected a 2% total increase versus the 8% industry average.  This extraordinary accomplishment could not have been achieved without the effective partnership between the county, health plan providers, union representatives and you, the employees who participate in the county's health insurance plan.” ~ Commissioner Mike Opat . Since this is a change to our contract, the membership will need to vote to accept a Memorandum of Understanding on the insurance premium holiday. We will hold a special vote at our 8/6/14 General Assembly meeting at 5:30 p.m. in HSB 110. ~ Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34

Expanded use of Sick, Pregnancy and Parenting Leave Benefits: Effective August 1, 2014 Hennepin  County employees may use sick leave to care for a mother-in-law, father-in-law or grandchild in addition to care for a spouse, child, adult child, parent, sibling, grandparent, stepparent or person regularly residing in the employee’s household. The use of sick leave has also been expanded to include reasons related to sexual assault, domestic abuse or stalking. In addition, the county’s childbirth and adoption leave has been expanded to include prenatal care or incapacity due to pregnancy, childbirth or related health conditions and is for a period of 12 weeks. These revisions to the HR Rules were approved by the County Board and are based on the Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act signed into law this year. 

Volunteer with AFSCME at Minnesota State Fair: The Minnesota State Fair is being held August 21st to September 1st – volunteers are needed to work a shift at the AFSCME Council 5 kiosk in the Labor Pavilion. Shifts run 9:00 AM- 12:30 PM; 12:30 – 4:30 PM and 4:30 - 7:30 PM each day of the fair. As thanks for volunteering, you receive a t-shirt and your admission is covered by the Council. Last year, volunteers collected over 6000 post cards that was the jump start to the successfully raising the minimum wage. This year we will be building support for transportation investment that supports our jobs and expands economic opportunity and quality of life for everyone. Please contact Michael Kuchta at 651-287-0537 or at michael.kuchta@afscemn.org to volunteer. He is waiting to hear from you!   

Congratulations! AFSCME Council 5 announced recently that we reached our goal of 2600 new membership cards signed by the time of the AFSCME International Convention -  time period was 2/2014 – 6/2014. We not only reached that goal, we exceeded it by 161 – 2761 news cards signed. You can all feel proud of your efforts to achieve that goal as Local 34 lead the Council with 190 cards signed. The time and effort that you put into talking to new employees and fee payers was well spent. Not only have we increased our membership, we have increased our visibility. Folks know who we are and where to find us in the workplace. That translates into strength and power as we continue to address worker’s issues on a daily basis. ~ Local 34 President Jean Diederich

Hennepin County Phased Retirement Under PERA Continues to 2019 : The 2014 Minnesota Session is over. The phased retirement option for PERA was approved through 2019, so if you have been thinking about easing into retirement while sharing your vast wealth of knowledge about the services and programs we provide with your coworkers, you should look into what this option entails. Conta ct Human Resources for further information.

To My Dear Brothers and Sisters of Local 34: I have formally submitted my resignation as Chief Steward of Local 34 effective 8/1/14 as I have accepted another position within Hennepin County. I am sad to leave Local 34 but am thrilled to start my new adventure.  With that, the Executive Board will be seeking candidates to fill my shoes. According to our standing rules, the duties of the Chief Steward(s) are as follows: (a) Recruit stewards (b) Arrange & conduct quarterly meetings with stewards (c) Arrange management meetings as necessary to avoid unnecessary grievances (d) Submit monthly newsletter articles as necessary (e) Attend regular & Special Executive Board and General Membership meetings (f) Gather and disseminate information through the steward system (g) Attend monthly Labor/Management Committee meetings (h) Serve on Membership Committee (i) Be responsible for the processing of all grievances. This is the ‘official’ list. However, in the last three years these additional duties and tips are important and needed as well: (a) Assign stewards to attend investigations as needed (b) Work with members directly to solve issues (c) Listen (d) Be supportive (e) Build relationships across the County at all levels (f) Member of Master Team for Negotiations and possibly Table Team member (g) Support your fellow Executive Board members (h) Don’t roll your eyes at Jean. In solidarity, Dana Hanson. If you have further questions about the role/duties of a Chief Steward, please email me at dana.hanson@hennepin.us.

Kick In, Then Kick Up Your Heels: Council 5’s Next Wave is planning its second annual Labor Ball for November. To help make the music, dancing and plain old community camaraderie happen, kick in with a donation. Checks can be made out to AFSCME Local 66 (with Labor Ball in the memo field). Send them to: AFSCME Local 66, 211 W. 2nd St., Duluth, MN 55802.  

Website Adds Dental Information: Council 5’s website has added eligibility, benefit, and other information for AFSCME participants in the Delta Dental plan. The plan is available to about 5,000 members in Hennepin County Locals 34, 1719, and 2822; in Hennepin County Medical Center Local 977; in some job titles in HCMC Local 2474; and to Local 224 members at the City of Shorewood. Open enrollment is in November. 

Human Resources Updates: Human Resources updated the HR Manual to incorporate the changes in state statutes regarding extended uses for sick leave and extended leave for child birth/adoption. Both changes are effective 8/1/2014.

Hennepin County Insurance Premium Holiday Proposed: The Hennepin County Board has an item on their consent agenda for the 7/17/14 Board meeting. That item is to have a three pay check holiday from paying health insurance premiums – both for the employees and the Employer. A consent agenda is one that has items that have been recommended by the various Board committees for approval by the full County Board.  It is a good indicator that item will be approved as the committee members have done all of the legwork and are recommending that approval. What this means is that you will have no deduction for health insurance from the pay checks for August 1, August 15 and September 12. (Note that we get paid bi-weekly – 26 times a year. The insurance is only withheld from 24 pay checks. August is a three pay check month so the insurance would not have been withheld form the August 29 pay paycheck.) When the recommendation was originally made, it was for a two pay check holiday. The Chair of the Board, Commissioner Mike Opat, noted that we could afford a three pay check holiday and that is the recommendation that was approved by the committee and the one on the consent agenda. It means that, depending on whether you chose an Advantage option or remained with the Standard option, those of us with single coverage will have an extra $20.93 - $37.50 more in our paychecks; those of us with employee plus spouse will have an extra  $156.91 - $195.85 per pay check; those with employee plus child(ren) will have $120.17 - $150.00 per  pay check; and those with employee plus spouse plus child(ren) will have an extra $172.67 - $218.24 per pay check. Multiply those amounts by three and that is how much more money you will have for your budget. This truly is good news. It means that we are all contributing to keeping our health care costs contained and it is a recognition of all our efforts to continue doing that. Feel free to share this with your coworkers. Also, since this is a change to our contract, the membership will need to vote to accept a Memorandum of Understanding  on the insurance premium holiday. We will hold a special vote at our 8/6/14 General Assembly -  5:30 PM in HSB 110. ~ Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34

Make a Difference at the Fair: Last year, AFSCME volunteers at the State Fair collected 6,000 post cards – jump-starting efforts to successfully raise the state’s minimum wage. We’re back this year, building support for transportation investment in Minnesota that supports our jobs and expands economic opportunity and quality of life for all. How to join us: Volunteer for a shift at the Council 5 kiosk. Shifts run 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 12:30-4:30 p.m., or 4:30-7:30 p.m. To say thanks, we pay your admission and give you a T-shirt. The Fair runs Thursday Aug. 21 through Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 1). If there’s a shift that works for you, contact Council 5’s Michael Kuchta by email or by phone at 651-287-0537. 

Education, Engagement and Outreach: Please join us in our next EEO meeting on August 18th from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at HSB 917. We will be discussing June’s Labor Lunch, Future Labor Lunch topics and times, Organizing, Workplace issues. Please let me know if you have anything to add to the agenda or any ideas about a future labor lunch. Thank you. ~ Heather Hemmer, AFSCME Local 34

Kick In, Then Kick Up Your Heels: Council 5’s Next Wave is planning its second annual Labor Ball for November. To help make the music, dancing and plain old community camaraderie happen, kick in with a donation. Checks can be made out to AFSCME Local 66 (with Labor Ball in the memo field). Send them to: AFSCME Local 66, 211 W. 2nd St., Duluth, MN 55802.

Website Adds Dental Information: Council 5’s website has added eligibility, benefit, and other information for AFSCME participants in the Delta Dental plan. The plan is available to about 5,000 members in Hennepin County Locals 34, 1719, and 2822; in Hennepin County Medical Center Local 977; in some job titles in HCMC Local 2474; and to Local 224 members at the City of Shorewood. Open enrollment is in November. 

Local 34 Recording Secretary Vacancy Filled: Laura Ross was elected by the Local 34 Executive Board to fill the vacancy for the Recording Secretary. As a result there will now be a vacancy on the Executive Board for a Member-at-Large position. If interested in serving on the Executive Board, please contact Local 34 President Jean Diederich with any questions regarding the duties for this position. Local 34 will hold a special election at the August Executive Board meeting to fill the vacancy for Member-at-Large created by her movement to the Secretary’s position.

Phased Retirement Under PERA Continues to 2019: The 2014 Minnesota Session is over. The phased retirement option for PERA was approved through 2019, so if you have been thinking about easing into retirement while sharing your vast wealth of knowledge about the services and programs we provide with your coworkers, you should look into what this option entails.

Meetings to Discuss Proposed Dues Increase: AFSCME Council 5’s Executive Board is recommending a dues increase of $5 per month beginning in 2015. We will have a presentation by Council 5 staff on the proposed Council 5 dues increase effective January 1, 2015 at the July 9th General Assembly (Health Services Building, Room 110, beginning at 5:30 pm.). The meeting will begin with a PowerPoint presentation of what we, Council 5 members, have accomplished since our merger in 2004, how our money is spent and why an increase, the first one since 2004, is needed. Please plan to attend the presentation and ask your questions about the proposal. AFSCME Council 5 Convention delegates will vote on the recommendation September 12. Local 34 will be electing our delegates to the AFSCME Council 5 Convention later this summer. 

AFSCME Local 34 Executive Board Vacancy: AFSCME Local 34 has a vacancy for Recording Secretary. That position will be filled with a special election held at the Executive Board meeting held Wednesday, June 18th at 5:30 PM in HSB 917. Per the terms of our Local 34 Constitution, any Executive Board vacancies are filled with an election by the Executive Board. The Recording Secretary is responsible for taking the minutes of the monthly General Assembly and Executive Board meetings, for providing those minutes at meetings that follow, and maintaining the minutes at our Local 34 office; for keeping a record of the property of the local and conducting an annual inventory of that property; for completing the registration of delegates to any conferences or conventions, and other duties assigned. If you are interested in putting your name forward for the office of Recording Secretary, please let me know by no later than Monday, June 16, 2014. All candidates will have the opportunity to give a short speech to the officers before the election is held. ~ Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34

New AFSCME Local 34 Officers: Newly elected Local 34 officers took the oath of office at the May General Membership meeting.

(l to r) Jean Diederich, Kathy Kelly, Dana Hanson, Jacqueline Poole, Deb Konechne, Kay Powell. Patrick Regan (not pictured). 

Come to a Labor Lunch: Pizza Lunch, Thursday, June 12:00 - 1:00, Government Center Auditorium. The process for a decent contract starts now. As we have seen in other states like Wisconsin, public workers like us are under attack. As workers, we need to be a part of the process if we want to keep and improve the wages and benefits we have and deserve. We also need to be involved to ensure workplace respect, dignity and decent working conditions. Join us for lunch and a panel discussion about the contract process, organizing and how we can make a difference for our future. Organized by the Education, Engagement and Outreach committee of the Hennepin County AFSCME locals. 

Education, Engagement and Outreach: The EEO is a group of organizers that educates and engages our membership into action. They hold outreach activities and actions to build the labor movement. Our next meeting is 5/12/14, HSB, Room 917, 525 Portland Avenue, from 5:30 - 7:30 pm. We will finish planning our informational lunch session about the contract, talk more about organizing, and go over our goals/mission for this year. Please be sure to RSVP if you are already a member of this committee. Please contact Heather Hemmer at heatherh_87@yahoo.com with any questions or to join this committee and be added to the EEO mailing list.  

Local 34 election results: The elections was held via mail in ballot for the seat of Vice President.  Candidates were Paul Madison and Kathy Kelly. Wes Volkenant, Elections Chair, has notified the candidates of the results and I can now share this information with you. You have elected Kathy Kelly to serve you as Vice President for May 1, 2014 – April 30, 2016. Please join me in thanking both candidates, Paul and Kathy, for running for office.  We, as Local 34 members, are lucky to have people who care about our local and are willing to put their names forward to run for office. Congratulations go to Kathy and thank you go to both Kathy and Paul. Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34.

May General Assembly: There will be food at the May 7th General Assembly meeting as the local honors its retiring officers and stewards and celebrates its 2014-2015 Executive Board members and stewards.

AFSCME International Convention (July 13-18, 2014): Local 34 voted to send President Diederich and one additional Local 34 delegate to the International Convention in Chicago. Note that the President is an automatic delegate so one more member will be elected at the May 7th General Assembly meeting (HSB, Room L15).

Netroots Nation (July 17-20, 2014): Local 34 voted to send two people to Netroots Nation in Detroit. The attendees will be elected at the May 7th General Assembly meeting. Netroots nation is an event for bloggers, newsmakers, social justice advocates, labor and organizational leaders, grassroots organizers and online activists to come together to make new connections, hone their organizing skills, share best practices and build stronger relationships with others working on the issues they care most about.

For Delta Dental questions please contact Deb Cassidy (AFSCME Council 5) at 651-287-0508 or Deb.cassidy@afscmemn.org

Healthworks: Don’t forget to check Healthworks for upcoming May classes that will help you to fulfill your requirements for this fall.

AFSCME International Convention (July 13-18, 2014): Local 34 voted to send President Diederich and one additional Local 34 delegate to the International Convention in Chicago. Note that the President is an automatic delegate so one more member will be elected at the May 7th General Assembly meeting  (HSB, Room L15).

Netroots Nation (July 17-20, 2014): Local 34 voted to send two people to Netroots Nation in Detroit. The attendees will be elected at the May 7th General Assembly meeting. Netroots nation is an event for bloggers, newsmakers, social justice advocates, labor and organizational leaders, grassroots organizers and online activists to come together to make new connections, hone their organizing skills, share best practices and build stronger relationships with others working on the issues they care most about.

May General Assembly: There will be food at the May 7th General Assembly meeting as the local honors its retiring officers and stewards and celebrates its 2014-2015 Executive Board members and stewards.]

Worker's Memorial Day is Monday, April 28th.   

For Delta Dental questions please contact Deb Cassidy (AFSCME Council 5) at 651-287-0508 or Deb.cassidy@afscmemn.org. 

Labor-Management Health Care Committee: The County’s Self-Insurance reserves continue to amass, having risen to $45 million, although soon the income flow may change as 57% of county employees entered into the Advantage Plan.

Council 5 Scholarship Reminders: Deadline to apply is May 2, 2014.

Richard E. Patterson Scholarship for children of Council 5 members.

Clarence J. Moss Scholar-ship for children of Council 5 members (500 word essay required).

Robert Norberg Scholar-ship for adult members of Council 5 to further their education.

Local 34 election: Final nominations for all vacant positions in AFSCME Local 34 were taken at the March General Membership meeting. The following members were elected by unanimous ballot in uncontested races: President: Jean Diederich; Treasurer: Patrick Regan; Sergeant-at-Arms: Andrea Lazo-Rice; Chief Steward: Dana Hanson; Members-at-Large: Kay Powell, Deb Konechne, Jacqueline Poole; Mpls. Regional Labor Federation: Patrick Regan, Kay Powell, Rhonda Griffin; Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation Alternate: Maggie Keating; St. Paul Regional Labor Federation: Janet Keefe, Kathy Kelly; St. Paul Regional Labor Federation Alternate: Laura Ross. There will be one contested race for the office of Local 34 Vice-President. Two individuals, Paul Madison and Kathy Kelly were nominated for that position. Voting for contested races will be done by mail-in ballot in the following manner: Beginning Monday, March 31st, a ballot will be mailed to each member’s last known address. A self-addressed stamped envelope and a balloting envelope will be provided to return the marked ballot. All contested offices will be voted on by the general membership. Members will have until Monday, April 21st, to return their marked ballot. Any ballots postmarked after April 21st will not be counted. Click to read the full election notice. Wes Volkenant is the Local 34 elections chair.  

Help make this year’s picnic happen: Hey, it’s daylight savings time. Which means it’s almost summer. Which means the 2014 AFSCME Family Picnic is coming up. The free picnic – scheduled for Sunday August 17 at Battle Creek Regional Park in Maplewood – happens only because of generous contributions from locals and volunteers. To help make the 2014 picnic possible, organizers are seeking commitments for donations of: Potluck dishes and desserts, cash, especially to buy discounted water park tickets. To find out how you can pitch in, contact Local 2829’s Duane Gatzke at 651-472-2787 or at kkirk77dg@comcast.net.

Contract and salary steps: If you would like to read the new contract or find out what the steps are for your job class, here is the link to that information. Feel free to share this with your coworkers and keep the link for your future reference.  

Next Wave activities for 2014: Their next meeting will be at the AFSCME Council 5 office on Saturday, February 22, 1:00 - 3:00. Contact Heather Hemmer, Local 34 for further information.

Head out on the highway the AFSCME way! Show your pride in being an AFSCME member when you’re driving with a license plate frame for your car or bike. Just $2 each, plus shipping.

Labor movie nights: Movies will continue on the third Friday of each month. Labor Movie Nights begins at 6 p.m. at the Minneapolis Labor Center, 312 Central Ave., Minneapolis. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Pizza and beer will generally be available. February's movie is "Salt of the Earth". This film is one of the first pictures to advance the feminist social and political point of view. Its plot centers on a long and difficult strike, based on the 1951 strike against the Empire Zinc Company in Grant County, New Mexico. The film was assembled by blacklisted Hollywood talent and financed by a rebel union. The 1954 film upended convention by relying on real miners and their families for most roles, by featuring Latinos as key characters, and by taking a feminist point-of-view while portraying the genuine tensions surrounding a strike.

New Local 34 E-Board member elected: Please Join the Local 34 Executive Board in welcoming its new Member-At-Large, Deb Konechne, a PHN in Long Term Care (LTC).

Council 5 vacancy filled: Jean Diederich, AFSCME Local 34 was elected to fill the West Metro vacancy on the Council 5 Executive Board.

Contract vote: The vote on the tentative contract agreement was held on December 10th with members of all six AFSCME Locals - 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938 - casting an overwhelming number of votes to accept the contract.

EE & O Committee agenda: Look for an invitation from Heather Hemmer early in 2014 to join the Education, Engagement and Outreach (EE & O) Committee. One of the missions for the EE & O Committee along with the Local 34 stewards going into 2014 is to reduce the numbers of Fair Share fee payers and improve contact with the newly-hired members of our bargaining unit.The committee will also begin our work to achieve a good contract for 2016-2017. This is an ongoing process and all ideas are welcome.

2014 Health care sign-up: 58% of Hennepin County employees signed up for one of the two Advantage health insurance options for 2014. 60% of those chose the HealthPartners/Park Nicollet network and 40% chose the Fairview/Health East/North Memorial Hospital network.

County self-insurance success: The County has had a remarkably successful first three years of health care self insurance. The County has a current reserve of nearly $41.5 million. In the first 11 months of 20913, over $11 million was put into the reserve fund.

Elections appointments: Vice President Wes Volkenant was appointed the new Elections Chair for the 2014 officer elections. LaQuita Williams was re-appointed Nominations Chair for the 2014 officer elections.

MSSA delegates: Seven members of LocaL 34 were elected as MSSA delegates for 2014: John Herzog, Laura Ross, Kay Powell, Wes Volkenant, Angel Alexander, Jacqueline Poole and Maslah Jama. They will represent us at the MSSA Conference in March and the Delegate Assembly in November.

Resignation: Vice President Wes Volkenant reported that he will be resigning from the Council 5 Executive Board as of the December meeting, due to conflicts with his own work schedule, preventing him from participating regularly in the Council’s work.

Dental insurance: Hennepin County will be looking into self-insuring their dental insurance program in the future.

Good/welfare Appointment: Amanda Abell was appointed to be a new Good & Welfare coordinator for Local 34, replacing Merry Brigham who resigned.

Council 5 Social Services Committee: Deb Konechne, Wes Volkenant, Laura Ross, Vicki Moore, and Miguel Salazar were elected as representatives, with Kathy Kelly elected as alternate to the AFSCME Council 5 Social Services Committee.

Annual Council 5 convention: The 2014 AFSCME Council 5 Convention has been scheduled for September 11-13 in Bloomington.

Health Insurance Tentative Agreement: The Memorandum of Understanding on Health Insurance was approved by the members at the October 9 General Membership meeting.  

Labor Ball Was Great Success: The first ever “Labor Ball” received over $5600 in donations from over 32 labor unions and organizations, a figure that far exceeded their initial expectations and allowed the organizers to provide free admission, food and entertainment for their guests. Over 300 people attended, representing unions and industries from across the state. They were also joined by a number of political and community organizations. Establishing relationships between unions and across progressive groups was an important goal of that event the organizers were happy members of Minnesota’s activist community were in attendance.

Nearing Retirement? We’d like to encourage you to stay active with AFSCME in your retirement by joining the AFSCME Council 5 Retiree Chapter. Local 34 will pay your first year’s dues of $15. As with the active employees, there’s a statewide Board and six regions. The main phone number is 651-287-0485. Jeff Birttnen is the Retiree Chapter President. West Metro President/Board Rep. is Bob Hilliker. Jim Voytilla is the East Metro President and Judie Atkins the East Rep.

Next Wave: Contact Heather Hemmer regarding the next meeting of the AFSCME Council 5 Next Wave Committee on November 23.

AFSCME Council 5 Social Service Committee: The Local 34 executive board approved a motion to appoint up to 5 members to the AFSCME Council 5 Social Services Committee, chaired by Eric Hauge, at the November 6th GA Meeting. The Committee will meet on Friday, November 15, from 10am-2pm at the Council 5 office. Interested members should contact President Diederich by Noon on November 6.

Local 34 Elections: Vice-President Wes Volkenant announced his intention not to run for re-election in the Spring, and urged interested members to talk with him about the position.

Endorsement: Governor Mark Dayton was endorsed for re-election at the Council 5 convention in Duluth. Governor Dayton has helped Minnesota achieve some important milestones, and we're proud to stand behind him as he runs for re-election in 2014.

Rhonda Griffin is the Distribution Chair for Local 34 in charge of getting newsletters and other announcements out to the membership.

Kim Kurth resigned as a member-At-Large of the executive board for Local 34. A special election will be held at the November 20th E-Board meeting to fill the vacancy.

Members of the Local 34 Budget and Finance Committee will present the local's budget for 2014 at the November 6th General Membership meeting.

Current membership in Local 34 is 1873.

Contribution in the amount of $340.00 was approved by the E-Board for striking Local 564 Cretex concrete workers in Shakopee.

Thank you letter received for $100 donation to the NAACP.

Hennepin County Workplace Ergonomics: Per Manager, Mark Lee, HSPHD will provide a top-loading, two-wheel bag/cart as a substitute for the laptop carrying bag employees originally received. Workers should contact Jon Schoonmaker via e-mail at jon.schoonmaker@hennepin.us.  Please include your name, building, floor location, phone number and cube number in your e-mail request.

College Scholarship Money Available: AFSCME International is now accepting applications for its 2014 Family Scholarship. Ten scholarships, worth $2,000 per year, will be given for full-time college study. The scholarship is renewable for four years. Eligible applicants must be a graduating high school senior whose parent, legal guardian, or financially responsible grandparent is a full AFSCME member. Application deadline is December 31, 2013 applications for its 2014 Family Scholarship. Ten scholarships, worth $2,000 per year, will be given for full-time college study. The scholarship is renewable for four years. Eligible applicants must be a graduating high school senior whose parent, legal guardian, or financially responsible grandparent is a full AFSCME member. Application deadline is December 31, 2013 applications for its 2014 Family Scholarship. Ten scholarships, worth $2,000 per year, will be given for full-time college study. The scholarship is renewable for four years. Eligible applicants must be a graduating high school senior whose parent, legal guardian, or financially responsible grandparent is a full AFSCME member. Application deadline is December 31, 2013 applications for its 2014 Family Scholarship. Ten scholarships, worth $2,000 per year, will be given for full-time college study. The scholarship is renewable for four years. Eligible applicants must be a graduating high school senior whose parent, legal guardian, or financially responsible grandparent is a full AFSCME member. Application deadline is December 31, 2013 applications for its 2014 Family Scholarship. Ten scholarships, worth $2,000 per year, will be given for full-time college study. The scholarship is renewable for four years. Eligible applicants must be a graduating high school senior whose parent, legal guardian, or financially responsible grandparent is a full AFSCME member. Application deadline is December 31, 2013

Building Better Lives - Stronger Communities - Step by Step: Please join us in this year’s Hennepin 5K to raise money for the Special Gift Fund (donations are optional). Sign up on Apex for one of three routes: the Stone Arch 5K Walk, the 5K in the Skyway, or the 5K Fun Run! You can get wellness credits for participating in this event. Bring your friends and family! Thursday,  September 26, 5:00. Registration begins at 4:00. Hennepin County Government Center Public Service Level.  

New Local 34 Stewards Approved: Monica love, Elizabeth Allison, Jeanette Lindo, Ahmed Mohamed.

AFSCME Council 5 Convention: The following members were elected to represent Local 34 at the upcoming AFSCMe Council 5 convention. Jean Diederich; Paul E. Madison; Cathy A Cowden; Sheila Lipsco; Andrea C Lazo-Rice; Victoria L Moore; Wes Volkenant; Angel S Alexander; Heather A Hemmer; Jacquelin Poole; Kay Powell; Rita E Salone; John Herzog; Miguel A Salazar; Ahmed A Mohamed; Maslah A Jama; Kela Williams; Mara C Hill; Deborah L Konechne.

Ramadan: Some of our members, including at least one Steward, were denied the day off on August 8 or 9 for Ramadan. Don Sabre has been e-mailed to discuss this with the Executive Council. It is primarily impacting HSRs, where multiple Muslim employees work on the same team. It was reported that Kate Heffernan had followed with staff, suggesting they could have just a maximum of a 1/2 day off. The Local’s position is that the contract permits such religious holidays to be observed. The County uses the vacation clause of the contract to limit the numbers in order to regulate unit staffing needs. The Local’s position is that Supervisor’s cannot deny timely requests, simply because of team coverage issues—Muslims are hardly a large workforce, and units can easily cover absence with other staff, as Muslims cover on Christmas Eve, and even days like Good Friday. The Employer contends that last year, Muslims observing Ramadan came to our office in large numbers, and our Muslim staff were needed to work with those clients. We brought this issue back to Meet & Confer. At Meet & Confer, Don Sabre and Pat Avery agreed to accommodate as many as possible for Ramadan, and to proactively prepare for it next year.

Minnesota Union Leadership Program: Labor Education Service has informed us that Ibrahim Abu-Munye from Local 34 has been accepted into the 2013-14 Minnesota Union Leadership Program. The first two sessions are on September 25-27 at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge near Brainerd. The remaining dates at the University of Minnesota are: November 14, January 16, March 13 and May 15.

Remembrance: James Stevenson, Local 34 Steward, sadly passed away on July 15th at age 48. Following a mild heart attack, James had returned to work for light duty, and after his first day back, suddenly passed away. Wes Volkenant, Local 34 Vice President, joined James’ family, friends, co-workers, bosses, union brothers and sisters, and others touched by James’ life as an STS Crewleader, football and basketball coach, mentor, and community activist, at his July 25th funeral.

AFSCME Women's Conference: Sheila Lipsco and Sametta Hill, both Local 34 stewards, were elected to represent the Local at the September 20-22 AFSCME Women’s Conference in Denver, Colorado.

Same Sex Marriage - Hennepin County Employees: On August 1, 2013, the Marriage Equality Act takes effect. As a result of this change: 1. A same-sex spouse and/or the children of the same-sex spouse can be covered by the employee's medical and dental coverage. 2. Eligible expenses of the employee’s same-sex spouse and/or the same-sex spouse’s children will be reimbursable under the employee’s Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Employees can enroll for an FSA or increase contributions if already enrolled. 3. Employees currently enrolled for additional life insurance can add dependent life insurance and cover their same-sex spouses and dependent children.To enroll a spouse and their dependents for county-sponsored benefit plan coverage, employees must complete the appropriate form(s). Enrollment forms must be submitted within the 30-day time period outlined below. Employees who miss the 30-day time period will have to wait until the next open enrollment to change their benefits. Exception: life insurance is an any time event - if you want to add dependent life insurance after the 30-day time period, you can do so by providing evidence of insurability. Same-sex couples legally married prior to August 1, 2013 will have until August 30, 2013 to sign up for benefits. Coverage will become effective August 1, 2013. Same-sex couples who marry on or after August 1, 2013 will have 30 days from the date of their marriage to sign up for benefits. Coverage will be effective as of the date of marriage. Learn more about making these benefit changes.

Expansion of Employee Use of Sick Leave: Current county policy allows employees to use sick leave to care for a spouse, children, parents or person residing in their household. A new state law effective August 1, 2013, expands employees' use of sick leave to also allow for the care of adult children, siblings, grandparents and stepparents.

AFSCME Women’s Conference in Denver: At the August 7th General Assembly, Local 34 will be electing up to two representatives to attend this year’s Western Women’s Conference in Denver, from Friday, September 20 through Sunday, September 22. The Local will be paying many of the expenses - airfare, lodging, transportation to & from the Denver airport, per diems….  

Adopt a highway: Kim Kurth, Local 34 member reported seeing an AFSCME Local had adopted part of a highway in the South Metro, and encouraged us to do the same. Kim will do more research into this, and report back to the membership.

Salary adjustments for HSR series: During our initial planning for MNsure, Minnesota's new online application system for health insurance, we recognized the need to add more Human Services Representatives (HSRs) to handle the approximately 24,000 new Medical Assistance (MA) cases we are likely to see once the state begins promoting the new system this October. On June 25, the Hennepin County Board authorized HSPHD to hire 75 new staff to implement MNsure. 

As we began the preliminary steps for hiring new HSR 1 positions, we noted that Hennepin County is significantly below the starting salary for similar jobs in other metro counties. Federal and state funding cuts over the last several years have resulted in budget reductions at the county level and minimal, if any, salary increases for most county employees including HSRs. The current starting salary for the HSR 1 job class puts us at a competitive disadvantage with other counties who are also staffing up for MNsure. Additionally, we recognize the many stressors HSRs face as we move forward with regionalization while the demand for client services increases.  

This situation prompted HSPHD management to meet with the Human Resources and Labor Relations departments, and consult with AFSCME 34 leadership regarding starting compensation for the HSR 1 job class.  Based on these discussions, HSPHD has decided to take the following actions:

Effective for the payroll period beginning June 30, 2013, all HSR 1s who have passed probation and currently earn below Step 4 ($17.92 per hour) will be moved to Step 4. This increase will appear on your paycheck on July 19.

Effective for the payroll period beginning June 30, 2013, HSR 1s who are on probation and currently earn below Step 3 ($17.08 per hour) will be moved to Step 3 and upon passing probation, will be moved to Step 4.  This increase will appear on your paycheck on July 19.

HSR 1s currently being recruited will start at Salary Step 3 ($17.08 per hour).

No term or condition of employment other than the step adjustments listed above are changing at this time. All employee performance review patterns and dates are unchanged. Please contact your manager if you have any questions. ~ Rex A. Holzemer, Assistant County Administrator, Human Services and Public Health Department

Salary adjustments for Clinical Nursing Specialists: The Employer proposed a 5.17% market adjustment for the Clinical Nursing Specialist classification in an effort to remain competitive in the market. As this was a contractual change, AFSCME Local 34 membership voted to accept this proposal at our June General Membership meeting. 

Health Insurance Incentive - 2014: To earn the 2014 health insurance incentive: Hennepin County employees, spouses and retirees covered under the county health plan must complete the following three steps. 

  • Complete two HealthWorks sponsored wellness activities.

  • Document your wellness activities on PreferredOne's website.

  • Complete the annual health assessment in October 2013. 

Deadline: These three steps must be completed between Nov 1, 2012 and Oct 31, 2013. IMPORTANT: If a covered spouse does not complete the steps, neither the employee nor the spouse will earn the incentive.

Negotiations: Heather Hemmer is the Chair of our AFSCME Education, Engagement & Outreach (EE & O) Committee. She is looking for members to become involved in activities to support the Table Team's work during the negotiations process. Please contact her, to let her know what help you can provide, and join with your fellow AFSCME members to show our AFSCME green unity and strength. Opportunities are wide open - there is room for everyone!

President Jean Diederich will be out of action for several weeks, recovering at home from recent knee surgery. VP Vicki Moore will be in charge of Local 34 meetings during Jean’s recovery. Our best wishes for a speedy return, Jean!

Hiring HSRs: Metro counties have decided that — at least to begin with — they will hire 133 more employees to handle applications from people seeking health insurance under the new federal Affordable Care Act. The state’s website for comparing and purchasing health insurance, known as MNsure, will open in October. Expecting a flood of calls and visitors with questions once it opens, counties plan to have new staff trained by then. Hennepin County, the largest metro county, plans to hire the largest number of new employees - 75.

Health Care Savings Account for Severance Pay: Stephen Cook and Jacquelin Poole are the chairs of the ad hoc committee working on the education of the membership about what such a plan would entail. Please contact them if you are interested in serving on that committee. There will be a vote on whether to initiate a Health Care Savings Plan, with options for what it looks like,  presented to the membership at the time of the Contract vote. 

Are You New to the County? Just transferred into Local 34? To sign up as a union member or to get answers to questions about AFSCME and membership benefits, please contact Heather Hemmer, Local 34 Membership Secretary.

Coverage Changes Pending for Some County Employees: The Hennepin County Board will direct staff to align its policies, procedures, and employee benefit coverage with state law, pending the August 1st implementation of the Freedom to Marry bill. Special thanks to Commissioners Peter Mclaughlin, Jan Callison, Gail Dorfman, and Linda Higgins for their support of this action.

New Trustee: Douglas Graham was elected to fill the one year Trustee position vacated by Katie Farber when she retired. Please join us in thanking Doug for stepping forward to fill this important position for our local.  

Union Leadership Program: Reminder that the deadline for applications to the Minnesota Union Leadership Program is May 31st. Local 34 will cover the costs for this program for two of our members if they are accepted into the program. This is one of the agenda items for our June 19, 2013 Executive Board meeting.  

Contract Vote: There will be a vote on one issue only at the June 5, 2013 General Assembly - Clinical Nurse Specialists wage adjustment. Since this is a change to our contract, we will hold a special vote at the June 5th General Assembly to approve that change.  

Master Negotiations Committee: We have been meeting for the past few months and have agreed to a number of proposals for the contract. We have agreed that each Local will bring their final supplemental proposal items to the next meeting on June 6th. That means that we will spend the first 1/2 hour of our General Assembly on June 5th to finalize our Local 34 supplemental issues. Please bring your suggestions to the meeting. The Master Negotiations Committee will wrap up their work at the June 6th and June 24th meetings. After that, the final contract proposal will be polished and readied for presentation to the Employer at our first Negotiations meeting on August 12th. 

Health Insurance: Our self insured reserves continue to grow at a steady rate. I think that we can safely say that you - the employees - are helping to hold down the costs by watching the costs of the services you and your families use.  

Retirement and Dental Insurance: There has been a change in the process for dental insurance through the union. At such time as you are officially retired from Hennepin County, you will be contacted by mail with the information about enrolling in the dental program as a retiree. 

Health Care Savings Account for Severance Pay: Stephen Cook and Jacquelin Poole are the chairs of the ad hoc committee working on the education of the membership about what such a plan would entail. Please contact them if you are interested in serving on that committee.  

Thank you’s were given to Katie Farber, Cathy Cowden and Joe Weston for their years of service given to the Local.

Are You New to the County? Just transferred into Local 34? To sign up as a union member or to get answers to questions about AFSCME and membership benefits, please contact Heather Hemmer, Local 34 Membership Secretary.

Coverage Changes Pending for Some County Employees: The Hennepin County Board will direct staff to align its policies, procedures, and employee benefit coverage with state law, pending the August 1st implementation of the Freedom to Marry bill. Special thanks to Commissioners Peter Mclaughlin, Jan Callison, Gail Dorfman, and Linda Higgins for their support of this action.

Special guest for Local 34 June GA meeting: Steve Cook (Local 34 member) is chairing a Local 34 Health Care Savings Plan Committee. Committee members met earlier with David Wright of the Minnesota State Retirement System, which would administer any participation in a Health Care Savings Plan (HCSP), should Local 34 members vote to participate. It is anticipated a choice of whether to participate and then alternatives on how to participate will be presented for consideration to the membership later in 2013. David Wright with the Minnesota State Retirement System will be our guest at the June 5th General Membership meeting for Local 34. The meeting will begin at 5:30 in Room 110 of the Health Services Building.

Minnesota union leadership program opportunity: Are you a union leader, or would you like to learn how to be a union leader? The University of Minnesota Labor Educa-tion Service (LES) has announced a May 31, 2013 deadline for accepting applications to participate in the fourth year of this excellent program. Local 34 voted to support two applicants, and if you are selected, will pay for your full registration (and expenses incurred for the six sessions, scheduled from September 25/27, 2013 to May 15, 2014). Please let President Diederich know if you have submitted an application, or would like assistance in doing so. If more than two Local 34 members apply and are acceptable candidates, the Local will conduct a random drawing at the June E-Board meeting. 2013-2014 topics include “Workers and Unions in the 21st Century”, “Building Member Power” and “Taking Leader-ship in Your Union.” Past Local 34 attendees have included Heather Hemmer, Kela Williams, Maslah Jama and Wes Volkenant. For more questions, call 612-624-5020 or e-mail to: les@umn.edu

Contract negotiations: It’s been agreed that AFSCME will present its proposal on August 12th, followed by the Employer’s proposal on August 22nd. The master negotiations team will continue working through May and June to complete our written proposal for presentation to the county. 

Health care insurance update: A grievance was filed in February, on behalf of all six Hennepin County local unions against the Employer, for putting the cost of HealthWorks into our premiums ($7.88 per employee). AFSCME thinks that needed to be negotiated. A first step grievance was presented to Bill Peters in Labor Relations, who does not think it is grievable, indicating it is the Employer’s inherent right to do this. Special note: The County is now up to $33 million in its reserves since moving to self insurance. 

We remember: A Workers Memorial Day event, coordinated with AFSCME MnDOT – takes place in Roseville on April 29.Workers Memorial Day honor workers killed, injured or made sick on the job – and renews our commitment to create safer and healthier workplaces. This year’s event: Roseville, 9 a.m.: MnDOT Metro District, Water’s Edge, 1500 W. County Road B-2. 

Next Wave - The Power of Ideas: Two different settings, two different sets of AFSCME members, but the same goal: building a stronger union. On Friday, 320 state-sector employees shared ideas and  tactics on how to strengthen their locals and exercise their power more effectively on the job. On Saturday, two dozen Council 5 retirees, Next Wavers, and other active members shared lessons learned about workers’ ultimate power – strikes – what works, what doesn’t, and why. Next Wave and Retirees United members shared individual experiences, wisdom, and ideas on the best ways for workers to withhold their labor and shut down a workplace. Veterans of state, county, and university walkouts covered topics ranging from the timing, preparation and power of a strike, to the real (and sometimes unexpected) economic, personal and workplace impacts. Full story  

Health Care Savings Plan: Steve Cook is chairing a Local 34 Health Care Savings Plan Committee. Committee members met with David Wright of the Minnesota State Retirement System, which would administer any participation in a Health Care Savings Plan (HCSP), should Local 34 members vote to participate. It is anticipated a choice of whether to participate and then alternatives on how to participate will be presented for consideration to the membership later in 2013.  

Contract Negotiations: For those of you who are newer to the County, the odd-numbered years are our Negotiation years. The current labor contract expires at the end of 2013. The six Hennepin County locals meet together to create a contract proposal. We’ve met twice so far - with another meeting set for April 15th. If you see something in the contract that you think could be tweaked - or don't see something that you think should be included - please let us know right away. Our plan is to have our Local 34 supplemental issues finalized within a month. Formal negotiations with the county are currently set to begin on August 12. If successful, we hope to conclude negotiations by December and call for a vote of the membership.  

Next Wave Conference: The 2013 conference is scheduled for July 12th thru July 14th in Detroit, Michigan. Local 34 voted to send up to four of our members to this conference. Election will be held at the May 1st General Membership meeting. Next Wave is designed to recruit, engage and educate younger members to step up and carry on the legacy that AFSCME leaders before us have built.

Local 34 Elections: There were no contested races after the nomination process was completed. As a result, the following people were declared elected: Vice President: Vicki Moore. Recording Secretary: Kathy Kelly. Membership Secretary: Heather Hemmer. Chief Steward: KelaWilliams. Members-at-Large: Angel Alexander, Laura Ross , Miguel Salazar. Trustees: Katie Faber (1 year term), Paul Madison (2 year term). Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation Delegates: Katie Farber, Rhonda Griffin, Heather Hemmer, Patrick Regan, KelaWilliams. Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation Alternates: Cathy Cowden, Maggie Keating, Kim Kurth, Jacqueline Poole. St Paul Regional Labor Federation Delegates: Janet Keefe, Kathy Kelly, Matt Nelson. St Paul Regional Labor Federation Alternates: Lindsay Schwab.  (2013)

Negotiations: Local 34 has selected the following members to serve on the Master Negotiations Committee this year: Cathy Cowden, Jean Diederich, Latisha Edwards, Douglas Graham, Dana Hanson, Heather Hemmer, John Herzog, Maslah Jama, Maggie Keating, Rhonda Griffin, Monica Jochmans, Kathy Kelly, Kim Kurth, Paul Madison, Vicki Moore, Jacquelin Poole, Kay Powell, Sheila Prok, Patrick Regan, Laura Ross, Miguel Salazar, Mae Vang, Wes Volkenant, Tywana Gray, Angel Alexander and Kela Williams. We joined the other five AFSCME locals in our first meeting on February 11, 2013 to begin the process of identifying what we want to address in our coming round of negotiations for the next contract. Additional master team meetings have been set. Please feel free to share any ideas you might have with any of the committee members.

Nominations of open officer seats took place at the February 6, 2013 General Membership meeting. Final nominations will be taken at the March 6, 2013 General Membership meeting. LaQuita Williams is our Nominations Chair. She can be reached at 612-348-0006 if you wish to put your name forward for an office. Elections of those officers will be held in April (ballots sent out Monday, April 1, 2013 to your home address and due by Monday, April 22, 2013) if there are any contested races. Joe Weston is once more serving as our Elections Chair. Click here to review a list of the Nominations

State labor contracts approved: Workers in five of the state’s labor unions will receive a 2 percent across the board pay increase retroactive to Jan. 2, 2013, through June 30, 2013, under a new law signed by Gov. Mark Dayton.The law ratifies negotiated contracts for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees. The same AFSCME and MAPE contracts were rejected by a Republican-led majority last August because they didn’t require public employees to pay up to 10 percent of their health insurance premiums. Minnesota Management & Budget was directed to renegotiate, but was unsuccessful in getting the unions to accept partial premium payments by employees. A new DFL majority approved the contracts, which require $76 million in new money this year and an estimated $249 million over for the next biennium. The agencies and departments will have to absorb the pay increases within their existing budgets, according to Lillie. The last salary increases, other than performance-based step increases, were in 2008, he added.

Postings: Vicki Moore, working with Mark Lee of HSPHD, was able to get ICA Screener positions correctly posted as SW/SSW/PHN positions.  

Northwest Hub will have a lunch-time meeting / listening session with union leadership on February 13th.  

The October General Assembly meeting of October 2 was moved to October 9, due to the conflict with the Council 5 Convention in Duluth, scheduled October 3-5, with early registration the evening of October 2nd.  

Stewards meeting: Dana Hanson reported that at the February 4 Stewards Training/Meeting they will be discussing Contract Language, and offering ideas for the Local’s Master Negotiations Committee members. They’ll also be going over our Weingarten Rights, the featured topic of this month’s newsletter.  

Contributions: The Local approved a $100 contribution to Occupy Homes MN and renewed our membership in the Fair Trade Coalition at $300.  

Health insurance questions: President Diederich reminded members to check their insurance cards for changes in co-pays and tiers. If there are concerns, please contact Jill Hamilton in Benefits.  

Negotiations: The first Master Negotiations meeting of 2013 will be on Monday, February 11.  

Health care costs: Matt Nelson reported on the December Labor-Management Health Care Committee meeting and noted the County continues to provide possible repercussions of having a “Cadillac” health plan under the Affordable Care Act.  

Day on the hill: Local 34 members will attend Day on the Hill at the State Capitol on February 26. This all day event includes workshops, a Noon rally in the Rotunda, and meetings with legislators.

Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Dinner! The Local will purchase a table for 8 to the March 21, 2013 Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Dinner, with attendees chosen at the February General Membership meeting. The annual dinner pays tribute to the legacy of Nellie Stone Johnson, a pioneering labor leader, and to the recipients of scholarships given in her honor. The Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Program provides financial assistance to racial minority union members and their families who wish to pursue an education at one of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.  

Reduced Co-pays for 2013! I have received calls/e-mails from close to a dozen folks indicating that the health insurance card they received from PreferredOne notes "Without Health Incentive". They said that they completed the wellness activities and documented them on the PreferredOne web site as well as completing the health assessment. If this happened to you, please contact Sue Hoel in Benefits - please send her an e-mail to see if she can assist you with that issue. ~ Jean Diederich, President, AFSCME Local 34

Pay Raise! Remember that you will see a 2.5% raise in your January 18, 2013 paycheck.

AFSCME Master Negotiations Committee! The members of our local, along with the members of the other five Hennepin County AFSCME locals, work together to craft our negotiations proposal which is presented to the Employer. The committee will generally meet 4 - 5 times over the course of a few months to review our contract, finds sections that we think need to be changed, talk to our fellow members about what they would like to see in the contract and bring those ideas to the meetings. Once negotiations are over and we have a tentative agreement from the Employer, it is the Master Committee that reviews that agreement and votes on whether or not to recommend acceptance to our members. We have our first meeting of the Master Committee on Monday, February 11th at 5:30 PM in the Government Center Auditorium. Please let Local 34 President Jean Diederich know if you are interested in serving on this committee - membership of the committee will be presented for approval at the January 9th General Membership meeting.

AFSCME Day on the Hill! Up to 34 members will be elected to represent the Local at the 2013 Day on the Hill, at the January 9th General Membership meeting. Day on the Hill provides an opportunity for members to lobbyg legislators at the state capitol regarding issues of importance to union members and working families.

MSSA! Seven union members were elected to represent Local 34 at MSSA (Minnesota Social Service Association) assemblies in 2013: John Herzog, Kim Kurth, Elena Izaksonas, Laura Ross, Cathy Cowden, Kay Powell and Angel Alexander.

Union Elections! LaQuita Williams was appointed to serve as our 2013 Nominations Chair for officer elections in the Spring, and Joe Weston was appointed to serve as Elections Chair for the 2013 officer elections.

Next Wave Holiday Party! Heather Hemmer announced that AFSCME Next Wave is conducting a Saturday, December 8 Holiday Party at the Uptown Green Mill on Hennepin Ave. We approved $50 towards the cost of the pizza. It will begin at 7pm. RSVPs are being requested to the Next Wave Facebook page, or to: Next.Wave.Minnesota@gmail.com. 

Minnesota Social Service Association! The Local renewed its MSSA membership at $255. Seven MSSA delegates will be elected at the December GA.  

2013 GA Meetings! President Diederich announced that January and July 2013 GA dates (normally 1st Wednesday of the month) will be delayed one week each, due to New Year’s and 4th of July.  

2013 County Budget! Mark Lee reported that the 2013 HSPHD Budget moved from a position of staff reductions to “buying” some positions back - these will be direct service positions—primarily HSRs, Social Workers and CMAs (and four Supervisors). It will be a net increase of 22 FTEs. And in late, November, the County Administrator proposed an amendment for 26 additional Long Term Care staff.  

New Hennepin County Commissioner! 2nd District Commissioner-elect Linda Higgins was sworn in on Tuesday, November 20th. Higgins was sworn in immediately to fill the vacancy created in June when former Commissioner Mark Stenglein left to become president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. AFSCME endorsed former Senator Higgins in her election bid to the Hennepin County Board.  

Support Locked Out Crystal Sugar Workers! As we move into shopping and baking season, please keeps your union working brothers and sisters in mind. The Crystal Sugar Workers are still locked out. Please bake with cane sugar and not beet sugar.  

Hennepin County Non-Discrimination and Respectful Workplace Policy! On July 24, 2012, the Hennepin County Board unanimously passed the Non-Discrimination and Respectful Workplace Policy with an effective date of August 1, 2012. The policy reflects changes that include the removal of language around diversity which has become a stand-alone policy. The policy also includes language addressing workplace bullying.  This language was added with the unanimous approval of the Hennepin County Board.  

Mark Your Calendars! The December 5, 2012 General Membership meeting will held in HSB L15 (lower level/basement) at 5:30 p.m. food will be provided by the local for the holidays. Members are asked to bring an unwrapped toy (or toys) and a non-perishable food item to the December meeting, as part of a Local 34 donation to striking BCGTM workers.  The January Local 34 General Membership Meeting will be on January 9, 5:30 p.m., in HSB 110 - note the date change!  

Proposal to Move Some Severance Pay into a Health Care Savings Account (HCSA)! The Ad Hoc Committee, led by Stephen Cook and Jacquelin Poole has conducted four initial informational meetings. The largest session had many opposed to moving any severance pay into an HCSA. The committee is looking for additional members to meet in December and beyond to create specific proposals for YOU, the membership, to consider by May 2013. There can be various options from specific dollar amounts, to certain percentages, to putting all of severance into an HCSA. But all must do the same. One discussion centered around delaying a decision until negotiations next year. Others wanted to be sure that those opposed to any plans would be able to present opposition to the idea in general. In the end, Steve and Jacquelin will continue to lead an Ad Hoc Committee, look for more participants, write up some proposals, and return to the GA by May with their ideas. If you’re interested in participating in this process, contact Steve and/or Jacquelin, who will be planning meetings for December and beyond.

Hennepin County Board votes itself 2.5% raise for 2014 (11/3/2012) For the fourth year in a row, the Hennepin County Board has voted to freeze its salaries for the next year. However, in the same motion they gave themselves a 2.5 percent raise for 2014. The vote was 5-1, with Commissioner Jeff Johnson opposing the resolution because he disagreed with the 2014 pay bump. "Taxpayers pay us well and I think we work hard for our pay, but I'm not comfortable with the message that this would send," he said. This year, members make $97,080.  

State law requires that commissioners adopt any change in their salaries before the general election. Changes in board salaries usually copy those given to other county employees, but lag a year behind. The board's 2014 raise is the same as other employees' 2013 pay increase. In recent years, commissioners also have refunded a portion of their pay as a way to support leave-without-pay programs that other county employees have taken part in.    

The October GA meeting was moved to October 10 due to the Council 5 Convention. 

We Need More of You to Become P.E.O.P.L.E. Contributors! Thank you to the 215 current PEOPLE contributors - 13.7% of our members! You contribute an average of $3.98 per pay period. 148 of us are - MVP Contributors - at least $4 per pay period. And, we are just ahead of the Council-wide averages of 12.13% and $3.83 per pay period. But our GOAL is to increase participation to at least 20% - which is at least 235 of us. These PEOPLE dollars go to Council 5. They are used to fund our political goals - which this year is to elect a Legislature friendlier to public employees - to us! No Right to Work bill! Contact Kim Kurth, Laura Ross or Kela Williams to get your PEOPLE card today.

Health insurance problems? Are you having any problems with your health insurance, your flexible spending account, or just in dealing with Preferred One? The County has made Sue Hoel (348-9075) from the Benefits Unit, available to assist employees with their issues.  

2013 Premiums Increase Ahead: As agreed to in our 2011 Contract Negotiations, premi-ums for Single households will go up to $60 .00, begin-ning in December, through November 2013. There will be 2013 increases for other employees too—$8.56 for Families, $7.68 for Employee + Spouse coverage, and $5.88 for Employee + Child coverage.

Council 5 Convention: Twenty-four members of Local 34 were elected to represent the Local at the Council 5 Convention in Bloomington, October 4—6: Jean Diederich Kathy Kelly Wes Volkenant Dana Hanson Katie Farber Heather Hemmer Andrea Lazo-Rice Lindsay Schwab Jacquelin Poole John Herzog Angel Alexander Linda Flykt Carolyn Vreeman Shawnice Reid Maslah Jama Axmed Cali Anne Kester Patrick Regan Sheila Lipsco Jean Ayer Kay Powell Vicki Moore Kim Kurth Laura Ross.

Donation: Local 34 voted to donate $500 each to the 22nd Annual Minnesota Festival of Fathers & Families and to BCTG Locals 167G who remains locked out by Crystal Sugar

The Labor-Management Health Care Committee met in July. At the end of June 2012, our self insurance fund had a $24.3 million balance in Reserve. Long Term Disability premiums will increase about 5 cents per hour in 2013. Open enrollment will be 11/1/12 - 11/16/12.  

The Hennepin AFSCME Policy Committee, which represents AFSCME local unions within Hennepin County, met and discussed the possibility of having a series of informational meetings for members - brown bag lunches - around the County to give members a chance to ask questions and discuss topics such as FMLA, EEOC, Workmen’s Compensation.

Workplace Bullying: Learn how to help bullied workers. AF-SCME strategy teaches groups of employees to take their power back and stop bullying behavior by supervisors, managers or those in positions of power. This training is designed for stewards, activists, leaders who want to help workers suffering from extreme bullying. Time 10:00 AM – 3:30 PM, AFSCME Council 5 office,  November 29, 2012: Contact Judy Carlson at Council 5. For further information (651-287-0530).  

Next Wave: Heather Hemmer will serve as our Local 34 contact for Council 5 Next Wave initiatives. Please let her know if you are interested in becoming involved with the Next wave group and their events. Next Wave is geared to-wards bringing 35'ish and younger AFSCME members together to learn about becoming active within the union, about the union and step into leadership positions. 

Upcoming events - we have both the MN AFL-CIO and the Council 5 conventions coming up this fall. The AFL-CIO convention will be held September 16-18, 2012 in Rochester, MN and the Council 5 convention will be held October 4-6, 2012 at the Doubletree Hilton (formerly known as the Sheraton) in Bloomington, MN.

Heather Hemmer reported on Next Wave activities and about Union House‘s new Next Wave t-shirts, which the Council is encouraging Locals and Next Wavers to buy. The Local approved spending up to $400 on 40-45 Next Wave t-shirts.

Heather Hemmer reported on Next Wave activities and about Union House‘s new Next Wave t-shirts, which the Council is encouraging Locals and Next Wavers to buy. The Local approved spending up to $400 on 40-45 Next Wave t-shirts.

Dana Hanson is soliciting ideas for her Union 101 articles - such as union myths and misconceptions - send her your ideas!

Election Chair Joe Weston‘s report confirmed the results of Local 34‘s Member-at-Large election: the Local re-elected Jacquelin Poole and Kay Powell and elected Kim Kurth to two-year seats. All 2012-2014-term officers were sworn in.

Local 34 went on record as endorsing Danny Donohue and Alice Goff as they seek to lead AFSCME International at the June convention.

Costco will be with us at the July 11 GA meeting.

Sametta Hill was approved as the Local‘s representative to the MN Fair Trade Coalition Steering Committee.

Are you having any problems with your health insurance, your flexible spending account, or just in dealing with Preferred One? The County has made Sue Hoel (348-9075) from the Benefits Unit, available to assist employees with their issues.  

Training! Elected as Local 34’s attendees to the Labor Education Service "Education the 99%", May 9 & 10: Ibrahim Abu-numye, Dana Hanson, Kay Powell, Katie Farber, Ilyas Farah, and Kim Kurth.

Labor/Management Health Care Committee (April 2012)! The County is working with two new Benefit Consultants: Milliman, Inc. and Associated Financial Group. Milliman will be providing basic actuarial services, as well as assessing Health Care Reform impacts, and strategies, assessing disease case management programs and our tiered networks through Preferred One. Associated Financial provides monthly claims analysis, risk recommendations, and coordination of our RFPs. They are also responsible for legal awareness and making sure the County is compliant with ERISA. The County’s Analysis shows that as of March, our 2011 Reserves exceeded $14.5 million, based on $95 million in funding, offset by $77 million in claims, which was the bulk of $80.5 million in expenses. Beginning in December, we had our first $500,000+ claims of the year, causing our Stop Loss Reimbursement protection to begin.

Union Leadership Program! President Diederich announced that the Labor Education Service is taking on new candidates for its Union Leadership Program for 2012-2013—6 meetings from September through May. The Local will sponsor up to three candidates - to be chosen in May - at a cost of $1250 per person. Deadline is May 18th.

Local 34 donation! A $250 contribution to the Hennepin County Special Gift Fund was approved, with Dana Hanson noting that contributions for the 5K Walk are also going to the Special Gift Fund.

Congratulations to Local 34's delegates to the International Convention in June: President Jean Diederich, our automatic delegate, and the five who were elected this evening: Kela Williams, Katie Faber, Kathy Kelly, Andrea Lazo-Rice and Heather Hemmer.

New steward appointed: Judy Stadler, effective 4/1/2012.

Audie Lussier (former Local 34 President) to retire! Be sure to join the Local at its May 2nd General Assembly meeting in the basement of HSB (Room L15). There will be good food and new officers to swear in! Our former President, Audie Lussier, will begin her retirement from the County on April 30. We will honor Audie at our May 2nd meeting! Join us! Thank you for your service, Audie!

AFSCME International Convention! AFSCME Local 34 will be electing delegates to represent our local at the International Convention at the April 4th General Membership meeting. Local 34 will be sending 6 delegates and 1 alternate to the convention to be held in Los Angeles. The Local 34 President is an automatic delegate to the convention.

Social Services Committee! Council 5 has resurrected its dormant Social Services Committee, which met at the Capitol, March 9. The Local pays lost time, parking and mileage for members who attend. Katie Farber is the Local’s point person. Contact Katie if you are interested in participating.

Health Savings Account Upon Retirement! Steve Cook, who is planning ahead to his retirement, approached the Local about a clause in the Contract which says the Local can vote on putting severance pay into a health savings account upon retirement. After a good discussion of Steve’s proposal to transfer 50% from the payout into ban HSA , the Local created an HSA committee, headed by Steve Cook and Jacquelin Poole (they are soliciting members, so please contact Steve, Jacquelin or Jean Diederich, if interested in serving on this committee). See their article on “Severance Pay” on Page 4 of the April 2012 Local 34 newsletter. This group will explore the options and the impact of this proposal, and report back to the membership in six months (September). It is expected there are different needs and receptivity to this proposal, depending on how close the member is to retirement. If the Local eventually adopts such a plan (by election), it will affect everyone in Local 34 - it is not done on an individual basis. It is expected that the Local will organize a series of brown-bag lunches for the membership to ask questions and discuss this plan.

HFA and HCMC Merge! Hennepin Faculty Associates (HFA) a private, non-profit physician practice plan will integrate its op-erations into Hennepin Healthcare System, Inc., doing business as Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), a public subsidiary corpo-ration owned by Hennepin County. It became official Jan. 1, 2012. There will be no change to the mis-sion of the medical center, which will continue its commitment to provide patient-centered care, medical education and research.

Dignity and Respect! Chief Stewards Dana Hanson and Cathy Cowden are planning to meet with Monica Long, Hennepin County, to learn more about the County’s complaint process, in particular, as it relates to bullying and dignity and respect issues.

Labor Agreement (Union Contract)! The Local approved a motion to print 540 copies of the new contract - enough to give every Steward at least 10 copies to hand out upon request from members. The contract can also be viewed on the Local 34 website.

Add Labor History to Your Lunch! Our Next Wave members have scheduled a lunchtime Labor Education session to be held on January 24, 2012, 12:00 noon - 1:00 PM, in the Hennepin County Government Center Auditorium. Eric Lehto, Organizing Director from AFSCME Council 5, will be the guest speaker. He will give an overview of the labor movement and unions as well as answer any questions you might have. Light refreshments will be provided. We hope to see you there. Click Here to get more information regarding the "Next Wave" movement!  

Local 34 Elections! LaQuita Williams has been appointed as Nominations Chair for this year's elections. Joe Weston was appointed as the Elections Chair. Nominations will be taken at the February and March General Membership meetings. Please note that our Constitution has been amended to change terms of office from one to two year terms. To effect that change, the following officers will be elected to a one year term in 2011: President, 2nd Vice President, Financial Secretary (Treasurer), Sergeant-at-Arms, Junior Chief Steward, and three Executive Board Members-at-Large. These officers will serve May 2011 – April 2012 with those positions up for election for a two year term in 2012. The following officers will be elected to a two year term in 2011: 1st Vice President, Recording Secretary, Senior Chief Steward, Membership Secretary and three Executive Board members-at-Large. These officers will serve May 2011 – April 2013. 2012 Officer Election Notice 

New Executive Board Member! Join us in welcoming Laura Ross as our newly elected Member-at-Large. She was elected at our Executive Board meeting held on 12/21. Laura has been one of our Local 34 stewards as well a distributor of our newsletter. She will serve the remainder of the 2 year term previously held by Mara Hill. That term of office goes through April 2013.

Respectful Workplace Committee! Jean Diederich , Local 34 President, was selected to serve on the county's Respectful Workplace Committee, established as a part of the negotiations process this year.

Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Dinner! Local 34 has purchased a table for 8 to this fundraising event. The local will select members to attend at our January General Membership meeting. This dinner honors the scholarship winners for the past year as well as raises funds for future scholarships. Nellie Stone Johnson scholarships are awarded to union members or dependents of union members who attend Minnesota schools.

Local 34 Elections! LaQuite Williams has been appointed as Nominations Chair for this year's elections. Joe Weston was appointed as the Elections Chair. Nominations will be taken at the February and March General Membership meetings.

MSSA! Local 34 renewed its agency membership to MSSA. Our local representatives will be selected at the December GA meeting.

Delta Dental Open Enrollment! for Local 34 members will be from 11/1/2011 - 12/1/2011. This is the time to enroll, make name/address changes or add dependents. The effective date for coverage will be 1/1/2012. Call AFSCME Council 5 at 651-287-0564 with questions.

Union dues! There will be no minimum union dues increase for AFSCME International in 2012. Dues increases are tied to average wage settlements for union members across the country and increases have been very sparse this past year.

MSSA! AFSCME Local 34 has renewed our annual membership in MSSA, Minnesota Social Service Association, and will be electing our local representatives at the December General Membership meeting.

Donation! AFSCME Local 34 voted to donate $340 to Toys for Tots through the Child Care Providers Together www.CCPTmn.org towards their annual Xmas collection for children. Local 34 members are also encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy as a gift to the December General Membership meeting to add to the donation.

Name change! Dana Meyer, Local 34 Chief Steward, is now Dana Hanson. Congratulations Dana!

Fact!  Tax cuts for the rich cost $11.6 Million every Hour!

Where are you? AFSCME Local 34 member Katie Farber indicated that as new MAT Coordinator she is working on mapping the work-place for Hennepin AFSCME‘s six locals. Our overall goal is to increase the speed with which we are able to communicate to our members on any given issue.

Future Event! Next Wavers are organizing a Labor History Brown Bag lunch (Lindsay Schwab - contact) to be held early in 2012 in the GC Auditorium.

Executive Board Vacancy!  Mara Hill resigned from the Local 34 Executive Board in October. The Executive Board will interview and elect a replacement at the November 16th meeting held in the Health Services Building, Room 917. If interested, contact Jean Diederich, AFSCME Local 34 President, and plan to attend the meeting.  

Child Care Providers Fight for Union! A bizarre, three-hour legislative hearing – in which Republican legislators bullied child-care providers for three hours – shows how far the right-wing will go to stop the state’s providers from organizing a union. These 11,000 licensed providers care for 129,000 children every day. They make sure kids are healthy, safe, and prepared for school. They provide affordable, quality care in their homes so parents can go to work with peace of mind. The providers deserve respect, support, a decent living, and the ability to act with a unified voice – especially when the state sets the rules and subsidy rates for the care they provide. That’s why providers want a union. AFSCME is organizing 5,600 providers in Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis counties, and much of northern Minnesota. Most already have signed cards saying they want a union. Whether they get their chance through an executive order from Gov. Dayton, or through a union election, they are ready to raise the standards, unity and skills of their profession. Find out more: See the website of Child Care Providers Together/AFSCME.

Help Obama Push Jobs, Fair Taxes! President Obama’s American Jobs Act would create or save more than 26,000 jobs in Minnesota. It injects at least $1.5 billion into the state’s public and private sectors. It invests in infrastructure, invests in longer unemployment benefits for job seekers who are still looking, and invests in all sorts of projects in between. Obama fully pays for the $447 billion plan through $1.5 trillion in new revenue. That includes about $800 billion from taxing the rich. The president wants to repeal the Bush-era tax breaks for couples making more than $250,000, limit tax deductions that the wealthiest Americans can take, and end some corporate loopholes and subsidies for oil and gas companies. Take action: Urge your U.S. representative and U.S. senators to support the legislation. Contact them online or call 1-888-665-9823.

Negotiators! Your Local 34 Negotiation Table Team members are: Dana Meyer, Jean Diederich, Kathy Kelly, Maggie Keating, Paul Madison and Wes Volkenant.

Newsletter Distribution: If you do not get the newsletter early in the month and are willing to serve as a distribution person for your work area, please let President Jean Diederich  know. We do need more people to help out with this task as we are so spread out now and, with CSDM, will become even more dispersed to heck and gone.

Newsletter Deadline: Articles submitted to the newsletter are due by the 12th of the month- new target date for completion of newsletters is the 15th.

Hennepin County Insurance: Self-insuring has been successful so far, with $15.2 million in reserve (through first half of 2011). The county averages about 8,235 contracts per month involving approximately 15,000 members (family members and retirees). 

Phased Retirement Option (PRO): This option  allows 62-65 year olds to return and work up to 1040 hours a year, will apparently sunset in one year; PERA has come out against PRO - which may doom it‘s chance of renewal.

Sign Up for the P.E.O.P.L.E. Fund: The AFSCME People Fund is AF-SCME’s political action fund, and is used to support our endorsed candidates. If many members voluntarily pledge as little as $2.00 a payroll period, our ability to get our endorsed candidates elected, will be greatly enhanced. At $4.00 per pay period, a con-tributor receives an AFSCME green jacket. Please contact Jacqueline Coleman at 543-2605 to sign up now!

Time to Apply for Scholarship: AFSCME is accepting applications for its 2012 Family Scholarships, which provide renewable grants of $2,000 toward a college degree (10 to be awarded). The scholarships will be renewed for $2,000 each year for a maximum of four years, provided the student remains enrolled in a full-time degree program at an accredited institution. Applicants must be graduating high school seniors in a qualifying AFSCME household, and meet other requirements. The application deadline is December 31, 2011.

Health Insurance Problems? Are you having any problems with your health insurance, your flexible spending account, or just in dealing with Preferred One? The County has made Sue Hoel (348-9075) from the Benefits Unit available to assist employees with their issues.

Do You Have Friends Who Would Like to Receive Our Newsletter? There is now a quick and simple way for you to be-come informed on a wide variety of issues concerning AFSCME Local 34. Just sign yourself up for our free on-line newsletter! Please follow these directions: send an e-mail to the fol-lowing address: cwvolkenant@msn.com. In the Subject Line or Text, state "Subscribe to 34 Newsletter", identify who you are, and send it off. You will receive a confirmation e-mail within a week. You should have the lat-est issue attached, so you can determine if you will be able to receive – and read – the e-mail newsletter attach-ments. Note: If at any time you want to stop receiving these updates, all you have to do is send an e-mail to the address listed above, state "Unsubscribe"in the Subject Line or Text, and your name will be removed from our list.

New to the County: Just transferred into Local 34? To sign up as a union member, or to get answers to questions about AFSCME and membership benefits, please contact Kela Williams, AFSCME Local 34  Membership Secretary, Century Plaza - Mail Code 630. Phone: 612-596-0954.

Local 34 Survey Results (2011)