From the Desk of the President (December, 2014)



Council 5 is hosting a Social Media Workshop on Friday, January 23, 2015. The training is open to members interested in learning to harness the power of social media to strengthen and empower our union. The afternoon will be comprised of a 1-hour presentation followed by an interactive, hands-on workshop in the computer lab. Local 34 will send up to 2 members covering 4 hours lost time and mileage with attendees to be elected at the January 7,

2015 General Assembly. We ask that those of our members who attend the training commit to using the skills gained to help build our membership internally as well as prepare and carry out our messages/activities for the 2015 negotiations process. If this is some-thing that interests you or you have questions, please call me at 348-0266.

12/3/14 General Assembly: please plan to attend this meeting and enjoy the company of your fellow Local 34 members as celebrate another year of union activities. Food will be provided thanks to the efforts of Andrea Lazo-Rice who, with the help of a few folks, orders & picks up the food, then sets and has the food ready for us. We are asking members to bring a book or sturdy toy to the meeting. All contributions brought to the meeting will be used in the family visit rooms in HSB and Brookdale. The toys there have been well used, and are in need of replacement. This is one of our efforts to contribute to our community.  

Dues increase results: Members attending the Local 34 General Assembly meeting on November 5, 2014 heard the 2nd reading of the proposed amendment to our Constitution to increase the dues from 1.0% to 1.5% effective January 1, 2015. A motion was moved and seconded to approve that change. After some discussion, an amendment of 1.25% was made, seconded and, after further discussion, passed. That amended the proposal to 1.25% which, after even further discussion, was approved by the members in attendance.

So, there will be an increase in our dues effective 1/1/15 from 1.0 % of gross wages to 1.25% of gross wages. I would like to thank everyone who shared their comments and concerns with all of the officers and stewards over the past month. Members who attended the meeting came to address those concerns and everyone who was there was able to weigh in on the issue. Thank you to the Budget & Finance Committee, headed by Angel Alexander, for tackling this tough issue and bringing forward proposed language.

New Member-at-Large: Sharon Streeter has been elected to fill the vacant Member-at-Large position. Her term of office begins on December 1, 2014. Please join me in welcoming her to the Executive Board as well as thanking her for being willing to step up to serve all of Local 34. Sharon is a Senior Human Services Representative and is currently located at Century Plaza.

Take a Break sessions: Thank you to the Local 34 Action & Education Committee for holding the two sessions to date – one at the NW Hub and one at Century Plaza - with information about your Weingarten Rights. Both sessions were held over the lunch hour with officers and stewards present to talk to members about this important right as an employee. More sessions are planned for other work sites – check with Tywanna Gray or Deb Konechne for that information. This is the beginning of a series of lunch time “Take a Break” meetings to share information and answer questions that you might have about the union.  

Success story: I was asked by a few members about the MNSURE workers being told that they had to use vacation/PTO to offset time for a day when the state’s computer system, Curam, was not available on Wednesday, 11/12/14. They were sent an email in the afternoon on Friday, 11/14/14, letting them know that they would need to do this, as they logged in less than 5 cases on that day. Keep in mind that these are not experienced workers, so their ability to work a case correctly, was of great concern to them. After a series of emails to the supervisor and managers over two days, we received an acknowledgement from Labor Relations that they would all have their 8 hours of time for 11/12/14 recorded as “REG” pay.

My concern with this entire situation was that workers were never told that they had to work “X” number of cases in order to get paid. All of us more experienced workers know that we can spend all day working on one or two cases when they have a degree of difficulty to them. I am happy that the end result was that everyone received their 8 hours of pay. And I am even happier that several workers were brave enough to question the directive, and then call the union to see if that was appropriate. Thank you for placing your trust in us.  

2014 Elections: Thank you to all of our members who spent time this past year working on campaigns for the candidate of their choice. Many of you worked hard to get labor-friendly candidates elected. I was disappointed to see some of our friends such as Mary Sawatzky from 17B and Will Morgan from 56B lost their races as they worked hard for us over the past two years. We are lucky to have Governor Dayton reelected. He stated he is committed to making transportation one of the top issues for the 2015 session. Whether you live in the metro area or greater Minnesota, you know that our roads and bridges are sadly in need of repairs. Even with all of the road construction in place, we have not had enough funds to adequately address keeping our infrastructure up-to-date. Seeing Steve Simon elected as our new Secretary of State gives me hope that Minnesota will preserve our tradition of voter fairness. And all of us can thank our lucky stars that Al Franken remains our Senator so he can continue to work on net neutrality and we can continue to have affordable computer access. That being said, we have to do better the next time around. We have to knock down the proposition that corporations are equal to people like you and me when it comes to campaign finance rules. Start thinking about what you can do in 2016, as it begins now.

Reminder of remaining meetings:  

This has been posted on our Local 34 web site as well as on our Facebook page.

Remainder of the Year:

· Tuesday, December 2: Truth-in-Taxation Public Hearing—6PM

· Thursday, December 11: Budget Amendments, 9:30—12 and 1—3:30

· Tuesday, December 16: County Board Approves 2015 Budget and Levy at the County Board meeting

And if you think that our presence is not needed at the budget meetings, please watch the video from the HSPHD Budget presentation: One of our Commissioners questioned the need for more staff. After years of being under-staffed and overworked, our workers deserve better. It was a public hearing so I had the opportunity to respond on behalf of all of you who have worked so hard to make sure that services have been provided and our clients are safe. The work that we do provides a strong safety net for the residents of Hennepin County in need of our services. This is our work and we do it well but we need more staff to help us.

Happy Holidays to all of you. That wonderful snowy surprise in November has set the tone for winter. I am hopeful that any white stuff sent to us in December is light and fluffy so it is easy to shovel.