From the Desk of the President (December, 2004)


Post-Election Remarks and a Look Ahead to 2005  

I have a number of quotations on my cabinet for those times when, as Al Franken's character from Saturday Night Live, Stuart Smalley, would say, I need affirmation in my life. One caught my eye after watching the election returns on November 3rd and seems apropos for the times. It is from Thomas Alva Edison who most likely saw his hard work end up in less than favorable results many times before he was able to savor the fruits of success. He stated, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." So, it heartens me to know that those of us who worked long hours, made hundreds of phone calls, walked up and down thousands of steps, handed out innumerable pieces of literature, enjoyed countless hours of discussions with fellow union sisters and brothers and their families, and hoped like crazy that it would bear fruit on November 2nd, didn't fail. We just found a way that didn't work as we had hoped when John Kerry and John Edwards did not get enough votes. What it means is that we will go back to the drawing board and figure out what needs to be improved and what we need to do to achieve our new goals.  

The good news is that we did succeed in getting many of our friends elected to the State House and that is truly a very big win for all of us in the labor movement, especially us in public service. Those friends will be asked to help us in the coming years to balance the budget so that we will able to do our jobs. They have all said that it was our hard work that got them in the door. Now it is their turn to work for us as we ask them to engage in common sense discussions on how best to serve the citizens of our state, our counties and our cities and to enable us to have the resources needed to make sure that those services are provided with quality and to work on laws that provide for that to happen. That being said, it will always be up to us to keep the pressure on them, to let them know that we are watching and that we are willing to assist them when necessary. This has to be an ongoing project if it is to succeed.     Special thanks go out to the Executive Board members and stewards of our local who contributed many hours of their time to work on the Council 5 phone banks and the Minneapolis CLU phone banks and door knocks. Jon Grebner from Council 5 did an outstanding job of keeping us motivated and deserves special recognition for all his hard work. It isn't easy going back to folks over and over to plead for them to come to one more phone bank, one more door knock. He is a stellar example of our dollars hard at work. A special thank you goes to Brother Cliff Robinson who put up with my crazy driving as I chauffeured him around St Louis Park on a door knock for Steve Simon in the drizzle and cold. He is a hardy soul and a pleasure to chauffeur.  

John Korman, Chair of our Strike Committee, has worked hard on getting the message out to you about the importance of attending the County Board meetings regarding the 2005 budget. I would like to thank him for that work and encourage you to plan to attend the Thursday, December 2nd Truth in Taxation hearing which begins at 5:30 PM in the County Board room on 24A of the Government Center. The Commissioners will hold the actual vote on the budget at the Tuesday, December 14th meeting. If you have not already done so, please take the time to contact your Commissioner and encourage them to support the 3.97% levy that has been proposed by Sandra Vargas, County Administrator. This will have a great impact on the County's ability to provide adequate resources to the various Departments in 2005 so that our work gets done well.  

The work of the Dignity & Respect Meet & Confer group is moving right along. As stated in the memo sent out by the committee, we are developing a plan. It is taking longer than we thought it would but that is a good thing. All the members of the group are dedicated to having something that will benefit all of us so are willing to put the time and effort into making sure that we have looked at as many angles as possible without getting bogged down. Keep your eyes open for updates via the HC Weekly. If you do not have access to a computer, feel free to give Chalmers Davis, Matt Nelson or me a call.  

We will be gearing up for the 2005 negotiations after the first of the year. If you have ideas or suggestions that you would like to see discussed as part of the process, please bring them to the monthly General Assembly meetings or send any one of the officers and e-mail. As an ongoing part of our building for a better contract initiative, you will be approached more than once by one of our sisters or brothers asking you for input. I would ask that you give honest answers so that we can be constructive in our approach. You will be asked to participate in activities along the way to our successful process. Start thinking now about fun and creative opportunities to get our message out there - that we are committed to building on what we have now to achieve better results in fall of 2005. This has been a busy year for all of us with next year promising to be just as busy. I wish all of you a very peaceful holiday season and look forward to working with you in the new year.