From the Desk of the President (April, 2005) 

"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun."  - Mary Lou Cook 

Well, we are on the road to being as creative as we can possibly be.  By the time you read this, many of you have been approached by a coworker to answer questions on our one-on-one surveys in the first step of Building for a Better Contract. If you have not completed a survey yet, please let one of our stewards or officers know so that we can contact you to complete one.  The information from those surveys will be tabulated this month so that our local can determined what we take forward to the bargaining table.   

That brings me to the next step - an invitation for you to participate in this process by serving on the Master Negotiations Committee - the group responsible for tabulating the surveys as well as meeting with members of the other eight AFSCME Locals to discuss the results of those surveys.  This group will work on crafting a tentative main proposal for items that are common to all nine locals and work on the supplemental items for our local.  The work of this group will be brought back to the membership, most likely at the June 2005 General Assembly, for discussion and a vote on what Local 34 gives to the Employer as our contract proposal.   If you are willing to give of your time, probably a few meetings each month after work in April and May, for this project, please contact me at 348-0266 or via e-mail.  

Also, the Action Committee will begin their work in April and May.  If you have lots of ideas about how to run a fun, energetic campaign to support the Building for a Better Contract process and are not afraid of hard work, let me know.  The time you will spend as a member of this group will be well spent and limited only limited only by the plans of the group.  You will work with sisters and brothers from all nine locals so this is a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends and comrades.  Again, let me know of your interest in this group. 

Anita Selin, Andrea Lennox, Doyle Juenke and I represent you on the Labor/Management HealthCare Committee.   We have a series of meetings in march and April to learn more about health insurance - factors that drive costs for premiums; the health assessments results from last fall's open enrollment; programs that our members have become involved in as a result of that assessment;  what the future holds for us.  It is proving to be an eye-opening experience as we learn what effect our baby boomer population is having on those costs.  I am very interested to see if the stresses that we have experienced due to budget cuts, layoffs, lack of filling vacancies, needs of our clients, etc., over the past two years have had an impact on our medical usage and, if so, what that impact has been.  We will definitely have more on this in future months as we prepare for the 2006 rate proposals from the providers. 

(Following is part of a Fundraising request from Neighborhood House…. it was referred to the Local 34 Newsletter – Please make a personal decision whether you can assist this worthy program in the spirit of Paul & Sheila Wellstone) 

Minnesotans make good neighbors when times are tough…  At the Neighborhood House food shelf, we see hunger growing in our community every day.  Between the end of 2001 and the end of 2004, our food shelf use increased 82 percent…  Poverty and hunger seriously threaten families.  Parents who are working hard to achieve personal and economic sufficiency are the reason we have set our 2005 March Food Drive goal at 105,000 pounds of food and/or dollars combined.  This month, please make the most generous gift you possibly can. 

Jennifer Berg, - 2005 March Food Drive Chair, Neighborhood House,

Call 651-789-2503 with Questions

179 Robie St. E., St. Paul, MN  55107-2360   (651-227-9291)