From the Desk of the President (April, 2009)

Local 34 Officer Elections - as you may have already noted this elsewhere in the newsletter, we will have an election for one contested race, that of Treasurer. Ballots will be mailed to you at your home mailing address by April 6, 2009. If you have moved anytime in the past year and are not sure if we have your current address, please contact me immediately with that information so that you can get your ballot delivered to the correct address. 


Two positions were not filled during nominations - we had two positions without a person nominated during the nominations process this year. One is for a one-year term as Member-at -Large on the Executive Board and the other is a three year term as a Trustee. The Executive Board has the responsibility to fill those positions by an election held at one of the Executive Board meetings. That election will be held at the May 20, 2009 Executive Board meeting held at 5:30 PM in HSB 917, 525 Portland Ave, Minneapolis MN. There is one requirement for the positions - you must be a dues paying member of Local 34 for 12 months prior to May 1, 2009.  The duties of the Member-at-Large are to attend the General Assembly and Executive Board meetings each month, represent the membership at appropriate Meet & Confer meetings with the Employer, serve as a Chair on one of the Standing Committees of the local, help with the monthly newsletter distribution and any other duties as assigned by the President.  The duties of the Trustee are to work on the annual audit of the Local's financial records. You work with two other Trustees and the Treasurer to review those records in accordance with the financial codes of AFSCME and prepare and present a report of the audit to the membership. Please contact me if you think you might be interested in one of the positions so that I might answer any questions you might have.


Day on the Hill - we had a record turnout for this event - over 1100 members attended in spite of the weather conditions. Since I served on the Council 5 Day on the Hill Committee, it was very gratifying to see so many of our AFSCME sisters and brothers from across the state enthused about the workshops and lobbying actions. All of our jobs are directly impacted by the lack of federal and state funding. We have already seen coworkers - friends - family - neighbors lose their jobs due to the budget cuts and know we will see more jobs lost before this crisis is resolved. See page 5 for more of my comments on Day on the Hill – and my thank you to our @40 attendees, and for reports from three of our first time attendees. Then read Kela Williams’ report on Page 7. I encourage you to read what they had to say. It is clear that the impact from the event will carry over to their work lives.


Employee Free Choice Act - For information on this bill, visit the following web site: There is much misinformation out there sponsored by big businesses who feel that having a unionized work force will cost them too much money. After reading articles put out by the unions and by business groups, it is clear to me that the workers should have the right to decide to organize without fear of retribution from the employer. I grew up in a small town where unions were not welcome. There were several attempts to organize the factory where my dad worked. Each time, the employer would hold meetings that the workers had to attend. The employer would raise wages and benefits a little but - just enough to make most of those who voted to vote against the union. As employers go, dad was lucky enough to work for a relatively decent one but we would have done so much better if he had been making union wages. I can remember wishing that he and mom did not always have to worry about making his paycheck stretch so far. Life would have been a lot easier for them. When I came to Hennepin County and found that I got to be in a union, I signed that dues authorization card as fast as I could. My hope is that every worker in this country will one day have the chance to at least have the opportunity to sign a card expressing their desire to join a union - or to not sign a card - but to do so without worrying about repercussions from the "The Boss". I will ask John Herzog to post a sample letter that you can use to write to your federal senator or representative asking that they support the EFCA bills before them. I strongly encourage all of you to write those letters. If we have more people in unions, we will increase the power for all workers to get better working conditions, better health benefits, better pay. As Paul Wellstone said, "We all do better when we all do better."

Local 34 celebrates our 59th birthday in April. Let's wish ourselves a very happy birthday!