From the Desk of the President (August, 2003)

Kelley Leaf, our Membership Secretary, has tendered her official resignation from this post due to leaving Hennepin County employment.  On behalf of the members of Local, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kelley for all her work and wish her well in her future with the State’s Guardian Ad Litem office 

Welcome to Evelyn Nelson who will be our Recording Secretary effective August 1, 2003. Her excitement about serving the Local in this position bodes well for all of us. 

We elected six delegates to fill our 7 delegate complement and 1 alternate for the Minnesota AFL-CIO convention to be held August 11 – 13, 2003. The body authorized me to fill the other alternate slots so, if you are interested in serving as an alternate, please contact me immediately.  This would entail attending the convention if one of the elected delegates is not able to do so.  Since the convention is held at the Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis, it would be relatively easy to fill in if needed.  I can be reached at 348-0266.  

 “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt 

The future that we as members of Local 34, as well as most employees of Hennepin County, face includes many changes due to the budgetary shortfalls from the 2003 legislative session – both at the federal and state levels.  We are going to have to figure out how to continue delivery of quality services with fewer resources and fewer employees. This will mean that we need to be creative – think outside the proverbial box.  The way we do our work will also change.  This is going to be tough for us as we have to not only deal with the loss of our valued co-workers - either due to retirement or layoffs - but also with the pressures of maintaining our caseloads to keep services flowing.  My feeling is that our future can be bleak or it can be full of opportunities for positive change.  Each of us will need to decide for ourselves how to view this possibility.  I am hoping that you will join me in viewing this as an endless vista of chances to be pro-active in how we do business and how we serve our clients.  Since we, the workers, truly do know best what the work is and how that work can be done, it is imperative that we be part of the process when decisions are made about our work.   

What I am going to say next is not a popular statement and will be hard to accept on the part of many of us, however, it does need to be said and I feel that I would not be doing the job that you elected me to do if I skirted around this fact.  One of the hardest aspects of our jobs is the fact that the Employer has the right to determine what the work is and which job class will do that work.  Many times the comment is made "but that is the way we have always done our job" or "we have never done our work that way".   The hard truth is that we are going to have to change with the times as our jobs change.  We may not like the changes but they are coming regardless of liking the changes or not.  We have all faced changes that were not welcome, were not easy and were not fun.  Sometimes we questioned how those changes would help our clients and meet the Department's stated outcomes and goals.  Many times we have seen the changes start out as one process and end up as a completely different process.  We have seen our co-workers hurt as they have strived to keep up with the changes of the job.  Some of us have made the tough decision to leave the job we have loved because we feel that we cannot deal with the changes or because we feel so strongly that those changes are wrong. I am not saying that any of this is going to be easy because it won't.  What it can be is the opportunity of a lifetime to affect the future of not only those of us doing the work today, but those who will follow in our footsteps.  Do I sound like a cheerleader?  I hope so because I am here to cheer each of you on as you deal with whatever changes come our way.  I, along with all of our exemplary officers and stewards, am here for you to talk to as we work our way through the uncertain future.   I remain confident that we, as a group dedicated to providing the best services possible to our clients, will rise to any and all challenges in the coming days.

To meet part of this goal, out Table Team will work to improve our contract during the upcoming negotiations.  You will be represented by the following members of our Local:  Charissa Bryant, Jean Diederich, Andrea Lennox, Wes McGee, Dennis Miller, Elizabeth Portlance, Clifford Robinson, Lindsay Schwab and Laurie Simon.  We have our work cut out for us as we address the mayhem our legislators have created for us by their handiwork in the 2003 session.  We will look to each of you for your support and ask for your solidarity as we begin with the opening negotiation session on August 18th.

Thank you,

Jean