From the Desk of the President (December, 2007)


Special Election for Chief Steward

Shannon Wesley has resigned from her positions as Chief Steward which creates a vacancy for this position.  Based on the terms of our Constitution, the Executive Board has the authority to fill that vacancy with a special election.  You must be a member of Local 34 for one full year prior to December 1, 2007 to be eligible to run for this office.  We will interview interested candidates at the December 19, 2007 Executive Board meeting and, immediately afterwards, hold an election to fill the position.  If you are interested in learning more about the duties of Chief Steward, please contact me or Clifford Robinson.  Please contact me by no later than noon on Monday, December 17, 2007 to indicate your interest.


Please join me in sending a big thank you to Shannon for her years of hard work as a steward and Chief Steward of our local.  Her efforts to make sure that the terms of our contract are not violated have enriched all of our work lives.   Thank you!!


40th Anniversary of the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

This February marks the 40th anniversary of the Sanitation Workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee.  This event is especially important to AFSCME as Dr. Martin Luther King had made that strike part of his campaign for civil rights and economic justice.  He was assassinated following a parade in support of our striking workers from Local 1733 in April 1968. 


AFSCME is helping to raise funds to build a memorial to him on the National Mall in Washington, DC.  The International Union has already contributed $200, 000.00 and asks that all AFSCME affiliates and members contribute to this fund, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, to continue our recognition of his efforts on behalf of our brothers of Local 1733 and all AFSCME members.  You can download a donation form at the following link:

Please consider sending a donation of any size to assist in this endeavor.



Hopefully, by the time that you read this, we will have completed our 2007 negotiations successfully and have a tentative agreement ready for your perusal.  Your Table Team - Andrea Lazo-Rice, Clifford Robinson, Laurie Simon, Patrick Regan, Wesley Volkenant and I – have spent long hours poring over reams of paper, participating in many intense discussions, weighing the pros and cons of many viable and not so viable proposals from the Employer and crafting counterproposals to present to the Employer’s Table Team.  We have not worked in a void.  We have been part of a group of six Local Table Teams – 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938 – and joined by our Business Representatives, Matt Nelson, Steve Marincel and Jeff Dains.  We have been supported by members of the Hennepin Action Team chaired by Brenda Wood and the Strike Committee chaired by Roy Elliot, with many Local 34 members working on both groups.  Many of you attended the rallies, stopped by to get updates and to wish us well as we worked to achieve an equitable agreement.  It does take all of us working together to reach our goal of all of us doing better.  I would like to thank all of you for your work at your desk when you talked to your coworkers about the contract.  That support is what enables the members of the Table Team to keep going forward.  You are most definitely the U in union!


Regardless of what we do at the table this year, health insurance is going to continue to be a thorn in our side.  We cannot afford to let the matter go by the wayside between now and the next contract as the situation is not going to improve.  We all need to be a part of the solution – whether it is writing letters to Commissioners and other elected officials, working on campaigns of candidates who will work for a solution rather than let the status quo keep on, testifying before committees –  as that is the only way we will ever find our way out of this quagmire. 


Safe travels to everyone as you celebrate this holiday season,