From the Desk of the President (April, 2014)


Reminder— we will have a presentation from Costco at our 4/2/14 General Assembly. The presentation about Costco membership benefits will begin at 5:30pm, with fresh fruit and baked goodies for your munching delight while listening. Perhaps the food will help generate any questions that you might have for the presenter. Also, we will give away tickets to the State AFL-CIO retirees Fundraiser – always a ton of fun per members who have attended this event in the past.

The members attending the 3/5/14 General Assembly voted to renew our lease at the Labor Temple, 312 Central Ave SE, for another 5 years. There is something to be said for being a tenant with longevity as we were offered a reduction in the rent. Our office provides a nice space for our records and supplies as well as space for small meetings. Our Treasurer, Pat Regan, probably uses the office the most when he is working on our Local’s financial records. I have found that I am using it more often now that all the records I had kept at my desk are over there. When those of us on HSB 9 had to pack up and move due to the conversion of the floor to a flexible work space, I found that a good portion of the papers I had in my file cabinets were ones I used for our union business. So, if you have noticed that you do not always get a prompt response from me about a union related question, it most likely is because I have to go over to the office to find the information for the answer. At any rate, renewing our lease is a sound decision as I suspect more of our officers will be bringing their records over to the office as their space is converted or they are moved to a Hub.

Local 34 will participate in a phone bank for Ben Schweigert, our AFSCME endorsed candidate for the District 3 Commissioner’s seat vacated by Gail Dorfman when she left to become the Executive Director of St Stephen’s Human Services. Ben is an Assistant Hennepin County Attorney so he is an AFSCME member in Local 2938. He currently serves on the Executive Board for his local, has worked on our contract campaigns and organizes within his local. It is exciting to see one of our own AFSCME members run for this office.

Local 34 has adopted Thursday, April 3rd, as our phone bank night. Please consider joining me at that phone bank which is held at the Council 5 office, 300 Hardman Ave S, South St Paul from 5:30 – 8:00’ish that evening. I will be driving over there after work – leaving from HSB – so if you would care to join me and need a ride, please let me know.


Some of you have asked for an update on the health of our Hennepin County self- insured health care plan.

We had our most current Labor/Management Health Care Committee meeting on 3/13/14. As part of the meeting, we receive a Plan Funding Analysis report showing the premiums put into the fund, the paid claims, the fixed charges, and the net reserves for the prior months of the year and the previous years. As of February 28, 2014, our net reserves were over $45 million. Claims that were being paid out in 2/14 are still those incurred in 2013 – we will most likely begin to see 2014 claims this month – March, 2014. That is when we will see what affect the Advantage option will have on claims, expenses and net reserves.

One change that we learned about last month and received more information this month was regarding Healthworks’ move from Benefits to Public Health. Healthworks is a big part of the County’s ongoing efforts to achieve and maintain a healthy workforce. The move was noted as a way to better align employee and public health in the county.

Per Jill Hamilton, Healthworks will continue to provide the health incentive classes and offerings as they have done in the past. She pointed out one major change – when we complete an incentive activity for our reduced co-pay, we will no longer have to go to the Preferred One web site to document that activity ourselves. Instead, once a month Healthworks will run a report from our activities that are reflected on APEX and submit that report to Preferred One. They will then update their records and have the information on hand when we complete the health assessment which constitutes the documentation for the reduced co-pays for the next year.

I found the following quote on Facebook – posted by a number of friends – which bears repeating: “LISTEN and SILENT are spelled with the same letters. Think about it.” Since reading that, I have consciously worked at getting my mind to remain SILENT while I LISTEN to folks when we chat. So far, the result is that I hear what is being said much better. Thank you to everyone who shared that comment.

And now, on to those April showers – preferably rain……