From the Desk of the President (December, 2013)



The December 4, 2013 General Assembly is being held in HSB L15 (lower level across from the elevators), at 5:30 pm to about 7:30 PM. We have a few things going on this meeting:  

1st - it is our annual holiday celebration meeting which means that food will be served which is good as we are usually hungry about that time of the day. Thank you in advance to Andrea Lazo-Rice for coordinating ordering, picking up and serving the food.

2nd we will hold an election for our 7 delegates to MSSA for 2014. If you are interested in serving as one of our delegates, plan to attend the meeting or let me know that you wish to be nominated.

3rd in years past we have held a toy or food drive at this meeting. This year, we are asking members to bring a donation of cash or a check for the North Country Food Alliance. This organization provides free fresh produce to local working class communities in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Since they provide fresh produce which does not keep well, they do request monetary assistance to enable them to purchase that produce and deliver directly to those communities.  

Next Wave 3rd Annual Holiday Party this event will be held on Friday, December 6, 2013, at Green Mill Pizza (Banquet Room in the lower level), 2626 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis from 7:30 11:00 PM. The party is open to all AFSCME members. They are also hosting a fundraiser for the North Country Alliance at this party. Any contributions collected at our General Assembly will be brought to this event and added to the collection from that evening.

CONTRACT VOTE will be held on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 by now you should have received a summary of the tentative agreement via US mail. It can also be found on the Council 5 web site at - click on Bargaining and select Hennepin or on our Local 34 web site at Voting will be held at various sites around the County sites and times will be included in the mailing. You must be a member in order to vote. If you are fair share and wish to vote, you will be able to sign a dues authorization card that day.  

Local 34 members will also receive two other ballots regarding setting up a Health Care Savings Plan one ballot for establishing a HCSP for our severance pay and the other for establishing a HCSP for a contribution by pay period while currently employed. Each ballot will have two sections one section to vote yes or no on the question of establishing a HCSP and the other section to vote on an option for the HCSP. Complete information on the options can be found at this link: Please take the time to read the information. Any questions can be addressed to Stephen Cook, Jacquelin Poole or me prior to the contract vote. If the membership votes to establish such a Health Care Savings Plan, it will be effective January 1, 2014.

We will count the ballots on Wednesday, December 11, 2013. If the membership votes to accept the contract, it will then go to the County Board on December 17, 2013 to be ratified by the Commissioners and the terms of that contract will be effective January 1, 2014. The 2.5% raise will be effective with the first full pay period of January 2014. That would be the pay period beginning January 12, 2014 with the pay date of January 31, 2014.  

THANK YOU please join me in thanking the members of our Local 34 Table Team Doug Graham, Maggie Keating, Paul Madison, Laura Ross, Wes Volkenant and Kela Williams. It has been an honor to serve with them on the Table Team. Their wisdom, experience and enthusiasm served you well as we sat through the long hours of the negotiations and mediations meetings. We held serious discussions on our supplemental proposal as well as the main proposal struggling over all of the proposals from the Employer and measuring the needs you had voiced to us over the course of this process. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!  

And a HUGE THANKS to all of you who took time to contact your Commissioner, spoke at a County Board meeting, attended an event, wore green, talked to your coworkers, friends, neighbors and family about our needs, and signed a card letting the Commissioners know that you supported a raise for EVERYONE the first of each year as well as a raise at annual review time for those of us not at the top of our respective pay scales. What you did away from the negotiations table spoke volumes and your efforts paid off. You showed the Employer that you were not interested in a raise that pitted seasoned employees against newer employees. You stood strong. THANK YOU!!!  

THANK YOU to our sisters and brothers on the Table Team from Locals 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938. We stood together and supported each other on our supplemental issues as well as our joint issues. AFSCME is AFSCME, regardless of what we do in our work lives.  

THANK YOU to our own Heather Hemmer and the EE&O Committee members from all the AFSCME locals who spent many long hours meeting to plan events and actions to educate our members about negotiations and to get them involved in that process. The phone banks, many one-on-one conversations, flyer distributions, and preparations for events meant that their lives had big chunks of time missing from their normal daily activities. Their work provided the building blocks for our success. THANK YOU!!!  

Last, but certainly not least, THANK YOU to our Council 5 Staff Representatives Matt Nelson, Jeff Dains and Mark Baker who helped guide us through all the suggestions, wants, and needs to put together the proposal and all the subsequent documents passed back and forth from the Employer to the Union. They have a daunting task and proved that they were up to it. When you have a ton of union leaders in the room all with strong opinions and no fear of voicing them you have to be tactful while serving as both sounding board and guide. Joyce Carlson, Metro Area Director and Eliot Seide, Executive Director, from Council 5 joined us the final day and their voices of reason helped us work our way through more than one maze during the last hours.  

Since our work is never done, look for information early in 2014 to join the Education, Engagement & Outreach (EE&O) Committee as we begin our work to achieve a good contract for 2016-2017. This is an ongoing process and all ideas are welcome.  

Looking forward to 2014 - our pensions will be under attack again. Conservative groups are already talking about doing away with our defined benefit pension plan and replacing it with a defined contribution plan (we get the money and figure out how to invest it on our own). Keep your eyes and ears open as the attack on our benefits never ends. This will be one of the items our Council 5 lobbyists monitor and report to us so that we can be prepared to make calls when needed.

On a personal note, I will reach a milestone this year will be 60 on December 6th. The best gift is being able to work with all of you to listen to your ideas and just chatting about life in general. Thank you please keep it up. My wish for all of you is that you take time to slow down a bit and enjoy your holidays with your family and friends so that we can all begin the new year refreshed.