the Desk of the President (December,
Seide, our new Council 14 Director, will be a guest speaker
at our December 3rd General Assembly. He
will answer any questions that you might have about Council
14's role. We
have also extended an invitation to Jeff Spartz from HCMC to
speak about the future of the hospital but have not received
a response as of the writing of this article.
Please plan to attend this meeting as we finish off
an active year of unionism.
I write this article, many labor, religious, environmental
and human rights activists are preparing to head to Miami
for a rally against the Fair
Trade Area of the Americas.
We have faced many losses of jobs in our communities
over the past ten years due to NAFTA and are slated to lose
many more based on the agreements that the trade ministers
wish to put in place. How
many of us have dealt with friends, neighbors or clients who
have lost a job that paid well to find that they cannot get
a job to cover their living expenses?
They often end up taking a job that with a
substantial loss in both pay and benefits, many times losing
their pension as the factory or plant closed or the business
filed for bankruptcy.
you listen to the news, you see stories of the number of
personal bankruptcy claims climbing in direct proportion to
the number of jobs leaving this country.
Last week, I watched a news segment about the number
of jobs going to India and China.
A former ambassador to China stated that the
workforce there is endless but, at some point, it would
balance out and then the jobs in our country would see a
swing back - like a pendulum.
When asked how many years that might take he did not
have an answer. My
fear is that the answer is "Not in my lifetime".
All of this hit especially close to home as I visited
with one of my cousins who has worked for a steel company
for the past twenty years, dealing with various buyouts and
job cuts but always able to maintain health insurance
benefits and his pension due to a successor clause. Now that may all disappear as his company
faces further economic hardships.
There is talk of the company closing the mill here
and relocating to another country.
There goes the pension, the job security, the years
of company loyalty as he, his coworkers and their families
become yet another statistic.
And, if you think that FTAA will only affect blue
collar jobs, think again. Under
the proposed agreement, many of the services we provide as
public employees will be on the block.
It will behoove each of us to read more about the
FTAA and let our legislators know that this is not a good
thing for our economy.
(See this website for more information - www.stopftaa.org/
another note, I went home last week for my aunt's funeral.
While there, I was talking to my cousin, Dorothy, who
is an LPN at the hospital in Hastings. She told me about receiving the newspaper
and opening it to see a face that she had not seen in some
couldn't figure out what she was referring to until she told
me that the hospital staff are AFSCME members and the
newspaper was the Public
She saw my picture in there and had shared that with
me. Then we got
to talking to another cousin, Joann, who, along with her
daughter, works for Yellow Medicine County Social Services
and has a son who works for Wright County Social Services.
We had a long discussion about how our work is being
affected by all the state and federal cuts.
More of our cousins pitched in with their take on the
situation, voicing their concerns about the ability of
workers to continue providing quality services with fewer
workers to do the jobs and their fears that they, as
taxpayers, would ultimately lose out as they would not
receive the services they have become accustomed to.
This is a group of folks who grew up in rural
Minnesota and have worked all of their adult lives - many of
them having also worked while in high school and college -
and have paid their taxes so they feel that they are
entitled to express their frustrations with the way the
economy is going, the way our taxes are being spent. They want to know that Medicare and
Social Security will be there when we retire.
They want to know that their taxes are being sent
wisely to educate our children and grandchildren.
They want their parents to have quality medical care
at the local hospital and that they will be able to afford
the medicine. The
work ethic is not dead but the feeling is one of extreme
disgust with the politicians and the games being played with
our money. Public
employees are not viewed as being high paid slugs but as
workers providing valued services.
month, I wrote about the "folks on the 24th floor"
being responsible for the budget woes we face by not passing
the maximum levy limit.
Being a firm believer in
giving credit where credit is due, I should have
noted that the vote on the levy motion was not unanimous and
that three of our Commissioners, Mike Opat, Gail Dorfman and
Peter McLaughlin, voted for the full levy limit which would
have alleviated some of the hurt we are facing.
I apologize for this oversight in my article and
thank them for their vote on this issue.
Please let them know that you appreciate their
will be a busy month for us as we prepare for the holidays
and the changes brought by 2004.
Stay sane and stay safe.