From the Desk of the President (August, 2007)

CPMAT: Brian Backberg has been appointed to serve as the Local 34 union representative on the Child Protection Member Advisory Team (CPMAT). Mary Kay Popko had been serving in this capacity and recommended highly that Brian replace her. Brother Backberg agreed to take on this duty in service to our members. A big thanks from all of us goes to Mary Kay for her past service and to Brian for taking this on.

The Local 34 Table Team was appointed at the July GA. Andrea Lazo-Rice, Clifford Robinson, Kristina Przybilla, Laurie Simon, Shannon Wesley and Wesley Volkenant will join me in representing you at the table for negotiations. When you see them, please remember to thank them for all the hard work that they will be doing on your behalf as we present our proposal to the Employer, accept their proposal, and then get down to the nuts and bolts of negotiations. This involves long hours of discussion weighing the pros and cons of the various offers from the Employer, trying to decide what we are willing - or not willing - to concede, and what our sticking points are as the process goes forward. Your support and encouragement over the months will be greatly appreciated.

Our Hennepin County AFSCME Policy Committee Action Team is working on a series of activities around the contract campaign. Keep your eyes open for flyers regarding the upcoming actions, and make plans to attend with your AFSCME sisters and brothers. Your involvement at every step along the way will help lay the groundwork for a huge success for all of us. I can tell you that seeing so many of you at the rallies and other events two years ago kept the spirits of the Table team bolstered when our energy levels were beginning to hit the bottom. Your enthusiasm and talking about the need for a fair and decent contract kept us going. I look forward to seeing and hearing from all of you again.

Union Proposal - it should be posted on the Council 5 web site, afscmemn.org as of Monday, July 23, 2007. Our own Local 34 web site developer, John Herzog, will most likely also have a link to that proposal on our site, afscmelocal34.org. We hope to be able to keep all of our activities updated as they happen so make sure to check those sites on a regular basis. We will present our Union proposal to the Employer on Monday, July 30, 2007 at 2:30 PM. The Employer will present their initial proposal to us on Monday, August 13, 2007 at 2:30 PM. The fun will then ensue as we meet every other week during the months of August, September, October, and November.

We still need a volunteer to fill our Trustee vacancy. This position is very important to our Local. If you are interested in serving your sisters and brothers with a very small amount of time commitment needed, this is the job for you. Our Trustees will be doing their work in the next month or so to review the Localís books for 2006 and craft a report based on their findings to the Local. The term for this Trustee position ends April 30, 2008, so your commitment would be short but ever so valuable. Please call me at 612-348-0266 if you are interested or want more information.

Council 5 Convention - delegates will be elected at the August 1, 2007 General Assembly. As mentioned in the July newsletter, the convention will be held in Duluth, September 27 - 29, 2007. If you are interested in putting your name forward as a delegate and cannot attend the GA, please send me an e-mail indicating your interest by no later than 12:00 noon on Wednesday, August 1, 2007.

The Backpack Challenge for 2007 is up and running by members of Local 34 who work in the Volunteer Service Program. This program serves children of Hennepin County and provides backpacks and school supplies for them as they prepare for the school year. Many members of our Local serve those children or their parents. Because of that, our Executive Board voted to expend up to $200.00 to purchase backpacks and supplies for the Challenge. I would encourage all of you to help out individually or with your co-workers so that this program is an even larger success than it was last year. If you need information, you can contact Rosemary Carpenter at 612-348-4749. The challenge ends August 10, 2007. Thank you to all who have contributed to this effort in the past.

An Internal Organizing Campaign and Lost Time Position for our Local was a topic of discussion at our Executive Board meeting in July. We have found that some of folks in our bargaining unit believe they are dues-paying members because money is withheld from their paycheck with a notation that it is for the union when, in reality, that deduction is a fair share fee amount. Unfortunately, we have not been as successful as we would like in meeting all of our newly hired folks as they come in the Countyís door. Because of that, we are not getting the information about the union to them in a timely fashion and they do not get the New Hire Packet with union information and the dues authorization card to sign to become a member. We will be involved in a concerted effort to meet our folks who are currently paying a fair share fee to talk about the union, answer their questions and encourage them join our ranks as a dues paying member to build our Localís strength. We will pay lost time of up to 8 days per month for up to 4 months and Council 5 will also pay up to 8 days of lost time during this period so that we can reach out to as many of our fair share folks as possible. You might be the person we are looking for to help achieve this goal. If so, please call me at 612-348-0266 to discuss the goals of this program. We hope to have a member in place by the end of August. Also, if you are not sure if you are a dues paying member or a fair share fee payer, please contact me or our Membership Secretary, Kela Williams, by e-mail and we will check our records for you.

Jean Diederich