From the Desk of the President (August, 2005)

ANNOUNCEMENT

Brother Wes McGee sent a letter of resignation for his position of Paraprofessional Chief Steward of Local 34.  That resignation was accepted by the July 6, 2005 GA.  A motion was passed to hold a special election at the August 17, 2005 Executive Board meeting to fill this position.  Qualifications for this position are to be a dues paying member of Local 34 for the past twelve months and holding a job class in the paraprofessional ranks. If you are interested in putting your name forward for this election, please contact me by no later than noon on Monday, August 15, 2005. A motion was passed to appoint Shannon Wesley as the Acting Paraprofessional Chief Steward with commensurate pay effective May 1, 2005 based on her doing the work related to that position since that time. Thank you to Sister Wesley for her willingness to step forward and assist our Local to continue serving our members.

Health Insurance Update

The RFP (Request for Proposal) has been sent out and the Labor/Management Health Care Committee is waiting for a response.  The committee members will most likely be meeting weekly during the month of August to review the submissions by the insurance providers.  If you read through the Union contract proposal, you should have noted that we did not make a proposal on health insurance, noting that we would wait until the County had a plan in place.   Sisters Anita Selin and Mary Kay Popko, Brother Doyle Juenke, our Business Agent Matt Nelson, and I will be very busy reviewing the information from the providers along with the other members on the committee.  I would like to thank two unsung heroes who should receive commendations, Paul Cegla and Val Tetzlaff, from Benefits, for all the hard work that they put into this process behind the scenes.  It is only because of their work and the work of their staff that we are even this far in the process.  They will be doing much more time-intensive work before this is over.    

Early Retirement/Resignation Buy-Out Incentive

The Local voted at the July 6th GA to approve the usage of this program by our members.  If you have thought about using the program and have not yet contacted Human Resources to explore the advantages, I would suggest that you do so quickly, as the 45 day deadline of August 22, 2005, is fast approaching.  Please see the news article elsewhere in this issue. 

Negotiations

We had a very nice attendance at the kickoff rally on July 18th.  If you were not in attendance, you missed an extremely uplifting and exciting event.  Cliff Poehler, Treasurer of Council 5 and a Public Defender from Local 2938, served as our "keep this event moving right along" and did a wonderful job in that role.  Eliot Seide, Executive Director of Council 5, gave a rousing speech about our role in providing quality services to the residents of Hennepin County and how the work that we do makes a lasting difference in their lives.  His message resonated with every union member present.  Brother Jim Appleby from the County Attorney's office and sisters Solveig Nilson from the Library and Monica Jochmans from our Local all gave impassioned speeches on the services we provide to document the basis of our respective fair and equitable contract proposals. Speeches by Commissioners Peter McLaughlin and Gail Dorfman lifted our spirits as they acknowledged the quality of our work and the important role we play in keeping our County as a leader around the country for the services we provide with dignity and respect.  

A HUGE  round of applause goes to the Action Team for the fine work that they did in making this rally a success.  It takes a lot of work to get any event off the ground and this one was definitely well done.  Please join me in this THANK YOU! to that team. 

The rally was a nice segue into our opening of negotiations later on in the day.  It was almost anticlimactic but for the opening remarks given by Steve Marincel, Business Agent for Locals 552, 2822 and 2938 (see the full text of those remarks elsewhere in this issue). They set the tone and tenor of our proposal - that we ask to be equitably recompensed for the work that we do, while putting the Employer on notice that we are determined and unified in our desire to reach a fair contract settlement.  The majority of our first meeting was spent presenting the proposal to the Employer and answering questions for clarification.   Our next meeting is scheduled for August 15th when the Employer will provide us with their first counterproposal.  

Local 34 t-shirts

You may have seen some of your fellow members styling Local 34 t-shirts in bright yellow, lime green, gray or white with our snake logo on the back.  We have a limited number of those t-shirts left and would like to get them to you to wear in support of the union's activities.  Wear them grocery shopping, banking, garage sale-ing, neighborhood activities to get the word out about how important unions are to the financial viability of the community.  Wear them to political rallies/events.  To paraphrase Nike "Just wear them".  If you would like one, please send me an e-mail with your size and color choice.  We do not have all colors in all sizes so please list several choices.   We have Small, Medium, Large, XLarge, 2XLarge, 3XLarge  and a few 4XLarge on hand.  Again, first come, first served.  August is a wonderful month for vacations and I hope that every one of you has the opportunity to enjoy some time away from work this month. 

Jean