From the Desk of the President (12/2005) 

AFSCME Council 5 Executive Board update - The two E-Board vacancies were from the East Metro section filled at the November 17, 2005 meeting by the election of Jennifer Huepenbecker and John Ewaldt.   They have both been active in the St Paul political arena, most recently splitting a lost time position for the Council coordinating the Council activities during the 2005 political races.   The Board was presented with a comparison of the estimated budget versus actual expenditures for 2005, our first year as a merged Council.  We overspent in some areas and under spent in others with the end result being close to a wash.  The results of those figures are being used to determine the budget for 2006 as well as tentative budgets for 2007 and 2008.  If you are interested in figures, please contact me.  This next item will be of special interest to many members of our Local who have voiced a concern about the spiraling increase in health care costs.  The E-Board moved to endorse HR 676 – Single-Payer Universal Health Care sponsored by US Representative John Conyers from Michigan.  Executive Director Seide reported that, in conjunction with that action, the Council will look to future action based on the work of International Vice President Peter Benner who is serving on the 21st Century Committee and has health insurance as his area of expertise.  Needless to say, I was one of the first folks to volunteer to serve in whatever capacity needed by the Council, as this is one topic near and dear to my heart.  As more information becomes available, it will be shared with you. 

MSSA delegates for 2006 – nominations will be taken and elections held at the December 7, 2005 General Assembly for our seven delegate positions for MSSA for 2006.  If you are interested in serving the Local as one of those delegates and cannot attend the meeting, please send me an e-mail by no later than 4:30 PM on Tuesday, December 6, 2005, indicting that interest.  Your name will be included in the nominations and elections at the meeting. 

Sisters and brothers, you have been instrumental in writing one of the most successful chapters in the AFSCME story of Hennepin County negotiations.   Your courage, determination and commitment to achieving a fair and equitable contract had all of us standing strong – side-by-side – like the family that we are. Every day when you look in the mirror, you see the driving force behind our ability to reach the terms of the beat and final offer from the Employer.  Your involvement from the opening pages – answering questions for the one-on-one Building for a Better Contract survey and the subsequent work by the members of the Master Committee to put the final touched on our supplemental proposal to the middle of the chapter – coming to the July 18, 2005 kick-off rally when your Table Team presented our proposal to the Employer to the final pages – the rallies on October 24, November 7 and November 14, 2005 along with your phone calls and e-mails to the Commissioners – led to the final upbeat end to this chapter of our story. You – each and every one of you – need to realize that without that commitment to standing together as the sisters and brothers we are, we would not have been successful on reaching our goals.  The Employer knew all along that they had to deal with everyone outside of the negotiations room  - that strong, comforting, supportive and enduring presence for those of us on the Table Team. 

So, sisters and brothers, on behalf of the Table Team, THANK YOU! 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Anita Selin, Mary Kay Popko, Clifford Robinson, and Shannon Wesley who served you faithfully over the course of the process.  I am proud to have stood by their side as we reviewed and responded to all of the proposals.  Thanks also to Matt Nelson, our Business Agent, for helping us to wade through all the piles of information.  Thanks go to Jeff Dains and Steve Marincel, Matt’s fellow Business Agents, who spoke for us. Eliot Seide and Jerry Serfling joined us for the final night and their words of wisdom, spoken at the right time, helped us to remember why we were in the room and go forward. 

Many thank go to our sisters and brothers of the other Locals who stood strong with us in our joint endeavor – Local 552’s Tim Turrentine, Rhonda Bode, Cate Wagner and Pat Guernsey; Local 1719’s Steve Franks and Don Smith; Local 2822’s Molly Malecki, Jennifer McNair and Lynn Stetler; Local 2864’s Jan DeSirey, Lisa Kjellander, and Jean Bielke-Rodenbiker; and Local 2938’s Laura Floistad, Ernie Dial, Bob Sorenson and Cliff Poehler.

The Action Team headed up by Brenda Wood and Mary Dwyer, did an excellent job or organizing the rallies, getting flyers and Table Talks out, and bringing much needed food to us during the November 7 and November 14 sessions, deserve a special thanks.  I will have a complete list of their names for the next newsletter so that you can thank all then for their hard work.  Jennifer Lovaasen, Communications person extraordinaire, who was with us during the process – assisting the Action Team and staying up all night for the final push, deserves a thank you for all that she gave – both of her expertise and of herself.  The Strike Committee – co-chaired by David Tremewan and John Korman, put together a wonderful Member Survival Kit.  The members, who will also be listed in the next newsletter, worked long hours on making sure that we had a process in place in case of a strike.  The knowledge that we were willing to strike and were prepared to do so was instrumental in the success of our endeavor. 

Last, but very certainly not least, THANK YOU to our own Wes Volkenant, minute taker without compare, for his ability to capture all that was said and discussed during our meetings.  That ability enabled us on more than one occasion to clarify questions that we had in the wee hours of the morning.  Also included in that, is a thank you to his wife, Cheryl, who helped Wes put together a number of useful charts with numbers and percentages for wages, etc. which I referred to many times over the course of the process.  I wish all of you a very joyous holiday season.  May future chapters of our story build on the positive note of the one we are now closing. Jean