From the Desk of the President (December, 2011)

 

Announcements: Remember that our December 7th General Assembly will be held in HSB L15 - the large conference room across from the elevators in the lower level - at 5:30 PM. We will have food so bring your appetites. We also ask that you bring unwrapped toys, games, books, movies, etc. for the Toys for Tots drive. We have an unfilled vacant Member-at-Large seat. A special election will be held at the December 21, 2011 Executive Board meeting to fill that seat. If you are interested in putting your name forward, please contact me before that date. The meeting will be held in HSB 917 at 5:30 PM. The contract vote will be held on December 6th at various sites around the county. You should have received a notice in the mail with the information about the places and times as well as summary of the proposal. It would have been mailed to the most recent address we have for you so, if you have not received your notice, please let me know right away so that we can get your address up to date as well as get the information to you.

Thank you: Thank you to all of our members - as well as those from the other 5 AFSCME locals, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938 - who worked hard on the Action Team chaired by Katie Farber and Strike Committee chaired by David Cohoes/Cliff Poehler, who showed up for the action events, who wore green - lots of green - to work, who contacted their Commissioners, who sat in on the budget meetings, who talked to their coworkers about our issues, and who were there every step along the way while we worked to get a fair contract. Your efforts were noticed and appreciated more than you can ever know by those of us on the Table Team. Knowing that you had our backs gave us the courage we needed to give voice to your concerns and the stamina to stay the course. Without you standing up for yourselves, our voices would have fallen on deaf ears and our efforts would have gone nowhere. And, by the way, you all look terrific in green!  

Here are the links to my Facebook albums for the 10/24/11 rally:  

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150504115608222.470105.558913221&type=1&l=76ca7c864b  

The 11/7/11 gauntlet:  

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150525393928222.475180.558913221&type=1&l=e0be96d1ab  

The 11/14/11 final mediation session:  

 https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150538641453222.477092.558913221&type=1&l=16af7c34a2

(Note that the first picture is at 10:30 AM on 11/14/11 and the last ones are after 8:15 AM on 11/15/11).  

The Contract: So, what happens now that we have a tentative agreement? The proposal is presented to the Master Negotiations Committee comprised of members of all six locals for their reading pleasure, questions and comments. The final plans for the contract vote - voting sites and times - are made as well as getting volunteers to be at those sites. Each local has a different method of getting the information to their members. As noted earlier, we send the summary via U.S. mail at least three days prior to the day of the vote. You should make note that Local 34 will have two parts to our ballot this time. The first part will be regarding the 2013 wages - you will need to choose between the option for a 1.5% raise across the board plus steps for those not at the top of their pay range and the option for a 2.5% raise across the board with no steps for those not at the top of their pay range. The second part will be to vote to accept the contract or to reject the contract and authorize a strike.  

Counting the ballots is always an interesting experience. First, we open up all the ballot boxes from each voting site. Then we divide all the ballots into piles by each local. Then we take the sign-in sheets and count all the members who signed in to make sure that we do not have more bal-lots than members. Once we have double-checked all those numbers, the actual ballot tallying begins. We have teams of two working on the piles of ballots - dividing them in into "yes" and "no" piles and then tallying the votes. This year's counting will be complicated by the fact that we will need to count each of our ballots twice - once for 2013 wage issue and once for the accept or reject issue.  

Once all of the locals have completed their first count, we then trade piles of ballots and recount in order to make sure that all the numbers are correct. The numbers are tallied, the ballots are put in envelopes/boxes along with the sign-in sheets (they are held for one year and then destroyed) and then sealed with the people counting signing their names across the tape (very similar to the election judges for an election). The final count is used to determine whether or not each local voted to accept the contract or reject the con-tract and authorize a strike. That information is shared with the members and with the Employer.  

 If the vote is to accept the contract, the County Board will then have the request from the County Administrator for ratification of the contract on the agenda for their final Board meeting of the year. This year that meeting is set for Tuesday, December 13th. If the County Board ratifies the contract, it becomes effective January 2012.  

I hope that all of you take time to read through the contract summary and then exercise your right to vote. Only union members can vote so if you are fee payer and wish to vote, you must sign a dues authorization card. Those cards will be available at the voting sites. If you are not sure of your member/fee payer status, you should contact our Membership Secretary, Kela Williams, or me and we can check for you.  

ROWE I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that ROWE is Results Only Work Environment - not Remote Only Work Environment. That means that if you want to work in the office, you can choose to do so in your ROWE. You can-not be forced to take your computer home or to an alternative site (barring any extreme weather or building crisis). The reason that I raise this concern is that I still have members who do not have internet access and do not want to pay for it are telling me that they are still being "encouraged" to consider working from home. There are many reasons why employees choose to work in the office - ROWE is about choices - and if an employee chooses not add another expense to an already stretched thin budget, that is her/his choice. So, supervisors and managers, if your employees tell you that they choose to work in the office, please respect that choice.  

In ending, I would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season. As you spend time with your families and friends, re-member that the best gift of all is presence - being present when you are with them and when you reflect back on 2011, keep in mind these words, "Always remember to forget the things that made you sad, but never forget to remember the things that made you glad." - Victor Borge  

And that is how I would run my world.  

 Jean