FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT (April, 2002)

I received many comments from members and Managers regarding the increase in cost for health insurance premiums.  Paul Cegla from Benefits shared this fact with me–in the same period I referenced in last month’s article-1989 to present-the County’s share of family coverage increased from $115.00 per month to $517.00 per month. Of course, the result of that information is that my history major side has taken over so now I will have to contact the MHP and Health Partners to find out what the changes in their costs have been over the years. 

In the same vein, this topic came up in several discussions that I had with members from other Locals and with legislators during Day on the Hill activities on March 7th.  We are not alone in seeing our costs consistently climb.  It seems as if we are on train with the brakes wearing very thin.  I had such high hopes when President Clinton first assumed office and one of his first items of business was to hold hearings around the country on the issue of national health insurance.  What I find unfortunate is that all of the affected groups of people seemed to have their own agendas that were not in alignment with others.  We should have been smart and formed a coalition of progressive legislators, employers, employees, unions, health care providers, HMO’s, etc. to offset the power base of the pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies.  It isn’t too late to do this.  Our combined forces could affect a positive change. 

We have received a request from our sisters and brothers from AFSCME Council 6 (the State employees), to contact your legislators and let them know how you feel about the state budget.  Since this budget will have a impact on our jobs (called the trickle-down theory – sort of like that of the Reagan administration?), it would serve all of us well to make sure that we become educated and stay on top of the situation.  Let your elected officials know how the cuts will affect your jobs and your ability to provide quality services.  If you do not know what the proposed cuts are, ask your Managers, as this is one fight we share. If you do not know who your legislators are, visit the Legislative Web Site at  www.leg.state.mn.us and get those names. This is going to be an important year for many of us in our bargaining unit because many of our clients will come to the end of their term on MFIP.

The State will grant an extension to clients so that they can continue their job search, but if the jobs are not out there for them to find, or if the jobs that do exist do not pay enough to support their families, we will see more clients in crisis and possibly no funding to address their needs.    Also, if you would like to see an outline of the impact of the first budget bill passed by the veto override, here is a link: http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/departments/FiscalAnalysis/02health.pdf

 It is that time of the year again for me to ask for volunteers to do the work of the Local. Yes, it is Committee Time! All members of the Local’s Standing Committees are appointed by the President, and those appointments are approved by the membership. Members of any currently active Ad Hoc committees are also reappointed at this time. If you are interested in serving on a committee or would like more information about what the committee does and the possible time involvement, please give me a call at 348-0266.  I am more than happy to answer your questions.

The Standing Committees, by Constitution, are:

·        Negotiations Committee which will most likely not meet until the end of this year, as we just finished our cycle last fall

·        Constitution Committee – meets as needed to review requests for changes in the language or content of an article of the Constitution

·        Budget and Finance Committee – generally has the major work required prior to the beginning of October when the budget for the following year is due;

·        Dental Insurance Committee – meets as needed

·        PEOPLE (Political Action) Committee – this committee should be extremely active this year due to the redistricting so that most seats will be up for election

·        Good and Welfare Committee – deals with the requests from our members for cards, flowers, etc.

·        Newsletter Committee – meets as needed

·        Investment Committee – meets as needed

·        Health and Safety Committee – meets as needed 

The work done by these committees form the foundation for our ability to operate a functional unit.  For those of you who have asked me how to start becoming involved in the Local, here is your golden opportunity.    

Keep in mind that the 10th Annual Letter Carriers’ Food Drive will be held on Saturday, May 11th. Start your bag now to have ready by your mailbox for pickup on that day.  

I leave you with this quote from Carl Sagan, “Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it is yours.” 

This is my reality check! Jean Diederich