From the Desk of the President (August, 2017)



AFSCME Council 5 Convention – we have received the official convention call for the convention and we are entitled to 93 delegates. The local voted to send our full complement of delegates this year. The convention will be held October 5, 2017 – October 7, 2017 in Duluth MN. We held an election of delegates to the convention at our August 2, 2017 General Assembly as noted in several emails I sent out and information posted on our web site. We had the names of 55 members putting their names forward for the election and the membership voted to elect them as delegates. The members attending that meeting authorized the President to appoint an additional 38 members to bring us up to our full 93 delegate count with a deadline of August 14th to contact me if interested.  

We voted to cover the following costs: two days lost time – Thursday, October 5th & Friday, October 6th; lodging at double occupancy with anyone choosing to have their own room paying for ½ the cost of the lodging for the nights of Wednesday, October 4th – Friday, October 6th (even though the convention begins on Thursday day we cover Wednesday night lodging in order to give folks time to drive up to Duluth in the evening to get a good night’s sleep as registration is early on Thursday morning); $64.00 per diem for 3.5 days – total of $224.00 which you use for your meals while there; and finally, and mileage to & from Duluth.  

Any member in good standing is eligible to put their name forward to be a delegate. Serving as a delegate means that you commit to attending all the business of the convention – workshops, actions, etc., and bring the information learned/experience gained back to workplace to share with your fellow members and coworkers. 

Health insurance – we have had the first two session of the Labor/ Management HealthCare Committee for our consensus based bargaining for the 2018 health insurance plan. As I have reported at the monthly General Assembly meetings our actual usage of our health plans has increased since 2016. That means that the amount of money set aside for premiums by both the employer and the employees on a monthly basis does not always cover the actual costs of the claims each month. Milliman, the consultant firm used by Preferred One, has indicated that the trend for 2018 is an increase of 10.3% over 2016. The work of the committee is to take that information and look at any possibilities of adjusting our plan design so that the full 10.3% cost is not added to the premium.  

One of the changes made for 2017 to avoid a huge jump in premium was to add a “first dollar deductible”. We asked how many plan members have met that deductible this year. The information presented to us at the July 18th meeting was that less than half of our plan members have used services to the point that the deductible has been met. Another change made was to increase co-pays for office visits and prescriptions. The majority of generic drugs remain well below the $25.00 co-pay cap. That being said about ½ of the prescriptions filled cost over $1000.00. The reason for that is that the number of pharmaceutical companies making the drugs has reduced which means that they can attach whatever cost they want to the different drugs as there is no competition.  

The ACO’s (Affordable Care Organizations) membership continue to grow. This would be the HCMC/NorthPoint, HealthPartners/Park Nicollet and HealthEast/North Memorial Advantage plans. Preferred One continues to work with those plans to negotiate better reimbursement rates and having more of our members in the those plans helps to accomplish that goal.  

We have more meetings in August as we discuss every possible facet of our insurance to see what we can do to keep costs down for our plan members while continuing to keep the plan healthy. Please note that, due to the Kathy Kelly’s resignation as Vice President, Grace Baltich is now serving as the 2nd Local 34 representative for the consensus based bargaining meetings.  

Vice President vacancy – reminder that the Executive Board will fill the Vice President seat which is open due the resignation of Kathy Kelly. This will take place at the Executive Board meeting held Wednesday, August 16th at 5:30 PM in HSB 917. You must be a member in good standing for at least one year as of August 1, 2017 in order to be eligible for this office. The term of office will run from September 1, 2017 – April 30, 2018.  

If you are interested in putting your name forward for this seat or would like information on what the office of Vice President entails please contact me immediately.  

Our current contract runs through December 31, 2018. It is not too early for everyone to take a look at our current contract to see if there are things that you would like to change, language that could be improved, suggestions for additions to existing language or new language. The contract can be found on our Local 34 web site at or the Labor Relations web site at LR/Pages/AFSCME-Local-34-Information.aspx.  

Start talking to your coworkers about what works and what could work a lot better. Write all ideas and suggestions down so when the process for the next contract begins early next year you will be pre pared to bring them to our union meetings to share with your fellow union members. Be creative – there never has been a box for this process – all of us putting our heads together always results in some very forward thinking proposals.  

Dental benefits through our union – remember to use your dental benefits – three free cleanings a year for each person covered by our Delta dental plan – to keep your teeth healthy and strong. Preventive dental care is good for your overall health. We all like seeing a big smile on our coworkers faces!  

Good & Welfare – reminder that any request to recognize a fellow member should be sent to Amanda Abell, Donna Ronning and Robert Warmboe. We recognize the following life events:  

Birth/adoption of a child – send a card and flowers or plant

Recovery from illness or surgery – send a card and flowers or plant

Gaining citizenship – send a card

Marriage – send a card

Death of a member or family members – send a card and, if the family designates a charity or organization for contributions to honor the loved one, send a $50.00 contribution in that person’s name. Please include the member’s name and the reason for your request. In the instance of the death of a loved one, we do need to know the name & relationship of the loved one as well as the name & address of the charity or organization if one has been designated.

Thank you,