From the Desk of the President (11/2013)




Council 5 Social Services Commit-tee - we will appoint up to five members and five alternates (in case one of the appointed members cannot make it) to attend the Council 5 Social Services Committee meeting scheduled for 11/15/13 from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM. The local will cover lost time and round trip mileage for those members attending the meeting. The agenda for the meeting includes electing officers, a discussion on the process for setting a legislative agenda for our issues, discussion on who should be on the committee and setting future meetings. If you would like to represent Local 34 on this committee, please attend the 11/6/13 General Assembly held in HSB 110 at 5:30 PM or send me an e-mail with your interest by no later than 2:00 PM of that day.

Vacant Local 34 positions:

Trustee (3 year term) – we have had this vacancy since the 2013 elections. The Trustee works with two other Trustees to conduct an audit of our local’s financial books and reports their findings to the Local. The Treasurer is available to provide the necessary financial documents for the audit.

Member-at-Large – Kim Kurth submitted her resignation as one of Members-at-Large. That resignation was accepted by the Local at the October 9, 2013 General Assembly. Thank you to Sister Kurth for her service to our local. As she noted, she is not going away and will continue to be active so we will see her at events.

Our Constitution authorizes the Executive Board to fill a vacancy via a special election. The special election to fill the vacant Member-at-Large position will be held at the November 20, 2013 Executive Board meeting held in HSB 917 at 5:30 PM. You must be a dues paying member of our local for the 12 months prior to that meeting in order to be eligible for the office. Please contact me if you have questions about the Member-at-Large duties or talk to one of the other Member-at-Large officers: Angel Alexander, Jacquelin Poole, Kay Powell, Laura Ross and Miguel Salazar.

If you wish to put your name forward for either of these positions, please plan to attend the November 20, 2013 Executive Board meeting or send me an e-mail indicating your interest by no later than 2:00 PM of that day.

Open enrollment for 2014 health care – you will have two options for health care next year so it is very important that you read the information closely when you receive it. Our Local voted to accept the Memorandum of Under-standing for the changes for health cover-age which begins in 2014. Information about the options are included in this newsletter – that will give you an overview of your choices. I strongly suggest that everyone take some time to read the information on the County’s web site. You will automatically default to the current health insurance plan is you do not make a choice.

Health Care Savings Plan – the members attending the September and October General Assemblies held long discussions about setting up a Health Care Savings Plan option for both severance pay and as an ongoing contribution while currently employed by the County. The members voted to include both options on a ballot to be included with the ballot for our contract vote. Please read all the details else-where in this newsletter – including what the ballot will look like. There are two issues to be considered. 1st - should all or part of our severance pay go into a Health Care Savings Plan when we leave the County and 2nd – should a portion of our wages by pay period go into a Health Care Savings Plan while currently employed by the County. Each ballot will have a Yes or No vote with an attached ballot with the options for each question. Regardless of voting yes or no, each member will also be asked to vote on an option as, if the majority of members vote to establish a Health Care Savings Plan, each member is entitled to have a vote on the option they most prefer. Again, please read the information included elsewhere in this newsletter.

Council 5 Next Wave meeting – will be held on November 23, 2013 at the Council 5 Office from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM. That is located at 300 Hardman Ave S, South St Paul MN. The Next Wave is comprised of our members who are 35’ish and under who work together on finding ways to become more involved in the union. If you have questions about Next Wave, please contact one of our officers who are Next Wave folks – Heather Hemmer, Dana Hanson and Kela Williams.

Negotiations – as of the time you read this, we will have two sessions, November 4th and November 14th, left. Both of them will be all day sessions with Mediators from the Bureau of Mediation Services. The Mediators meet with both sides and then send us to our sepal-rate rooms. The Mediators then carry all communications, proposals and counter-proposals from the Union to the Employer and vice versa until we reach a tentative agreement. The Mediators are in control of the process as of the morning of November 4, 2013 and will determine whether or not a session will continue or if it is time to pack it in for the day. Please plan to wear green on both of those days in support of the work at the table. By doing so, you are sending a visible message to everyone that you are union and you care about what is going on with the contract process. Thank you for all of your support so far. If you see any of my fellow Table Team members: Doug Graham, Maggie Keating, Paul Madison, Laura Ross, Wes Volkenant and Kela Williams - between now and then, please be sure to stop and thank them for the long hours spent sit-ting, listening and discussing our proposal. You are well represented at the table by not just our Table Team but those from Locals 552, 2822, 2864 and 2938. Please note that you can also help out by contacting your Commissioner or, if you do not live in Hennepin County, the Chair of the Board, Commissioner Opat. Let them know about how your workload has changed as coworkers leave and are not replaced so that it takes longer to get your work completed which leads to slower client service. Let them know what the effect of no steps the past three years and no raises for 5 of the past 10 years has had on you and your family. Here is the link for finding your Commissioner:

November is a month of giving thanks. As you celebrate Thanksgiving, give thanks for the hard work and commitment of your sisters and brothers who work with you every day. Without them by your side, it would be a tough job. You are the ones who provide the services to keep our county going and I give thanks for each and every one of you.