From the Desk of the President (December, 2016)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

MSSA delegates – 2017: we renewed our membership with MSSA for 2017. Based on that membership, Local 34 is entitled to 7 delegates to MSSA. We will elect those 7 delegates at the December 7, 2016 General Assembly. If you are interested in serving as one of our delegates, plan to attend the meeting to put your name forward for the election.

Holiday party at the December 7, 2016 General Assembly. Please join as us as we share food and talk about the past year and look forward to 2017. The meeting is held at 5:30 PM in HSB L14 & L15, the two rooms across from the elevators on the lower level of HSB, 525 Portland Ave, Minneapolis. We do sign a lot of holiday cards so make sure that your writing hand is well flexed.

Commissioner Randy Johnson is stepping down from office as Commissioner of District 5 at the end of this year. His final County Board meeting will be December 13, 2016 after serving on the County Board since January 1979. He has the distinction of being the longest serving Commissioner since Hennepin County was founded in 1852. One of his quirkier claims to fame is his ability to find newspaper articles from any day being recognized – retirements, anniversaries of special events, etc. I am going to miss watching him pull those treasures out from his folder to share with us at the Board meetings.

Commissioner Johnson was instrumental in the creation of the accretion agreement we have in place here at Hennepin County. That means that we can organize workers employed by Hennepin County without fear of management interference that is experienced in other agencies and in the private sector in the organizing process. He also was a strong voice in keeping HCMC a quasi-public entity when the move was made to make it more competitive with private hospitals. That enabled our fellow AFSCME members in Locals 977 and 2474 retain their PERA status for their pensions.

Please join me in thanking him for his many years of service to the residents of Hennepin County and wish both he and his wife, Polly, many happy years of retirement.

Congratulations to Council 5 Executive Director Eliot Seide for being awarded the Paul D. Wellstone Award by the Minnesota DFL. The award honors Eliot for his lifetime commitment to the labor movement. He has spent over 28 years organizing AFSCME members around our country with stints in in Minnesota and New York before finally coming back to Minnesota. He fine-tuned his skills serving with President Jerry Wurf. Eliot is the embodiment of the “We all do better when we all do better” standard from Paul Wellstone. Congratulations Eliot!!!

Local 34 December 2016 Executive Board meeting date has been changed from Wednesday, 12/21/16, to Tuesday, 12/20/16. The meeting is held at the same time, 5:30 PM, and in the same place, HSB 917.

Musings on the 2016 election – I am sure that many of you are just as glad to see the end of all the political ads and commercials that abounded over the past year as I am. Maybe I am getting old but I do not remember the vitriol of those political communications being that bad in campaigns from past years. It is no wonder that voters were turned off. I miss the respectful treatment that candidates afforded each other even when they did not agree on things. I believe that it is time for campaign finance law changes that would provide an equal playing field for candidates who might otherwise not be able to financially compete.

Watching the news about the various folks being considered for Cabinet and other top level positions does give me cause for concern. If you read the background of people whose names are being floated around, you can see that they have an extremely conservative, anti-worker, anti-pension, anti-services leaning. It is going to be a very interesting four years as we weather this administration.

That being said, I have no intention of hunkering down and letting bad things happen to us. The time for mourning was the day after the election. That was it. For me the time to organize, plan, and fight back began the second day after the election. I have no clue what this will entail in the next year other than that we have but one direction to go and that is forward. It might be an inch by inch movement for every action. That is okay as every single inch will count. By standing together and moving forward we will be able to make sure all the hard work and efforts we have put in to improving our communities will remain in place. It will be work but that has never been something that we have been afraid to do. Quite simply – WE DO NOT QUIT!

Free College Benefit for AFSCME members and their families – if you have not already checked this out, you might want to consider doing so at the following link: http://freecollege.afscme.org/. There are currently four Associate Degrees available – Associate of Arts, Associate of Criminal Justice, Associate of Business Management and Associate in Early Childhood Education.

PEPSA – in light of the likelihood of threats to our pension through PERA, you might want to consider becoming a member of PEPSA, Public Employees’ Pension Service Association. This organization is devoted to watching any and all legislation that would have an effect on our pension and how it is funded. You can join by going to their web site, http://pepsa.org/. The dues can be withheld from your paycheck via APEX by completing the form. The Fall 2016 newsletter link can also be found at that site.

Vacations – it is that time of the year when many of us take time off to spend with our families and friends. I have asked all of the officers and stewards for a list of their days off for the coming month. That list will be available to all our Local 34 officers, stewards and our Council 5 Field Representative, Michael LaCoste, so, in case you need representation or have questions, you will be referred to someone who is in the office rather than someone who is on vacation. I am out of the office from December 17, 2016 through January 2, 2017. During my absence, you can contact our two Vice Presidents, Laura Ross and Kathy (Katherine on email) Kelly, for assistance.

Thank you for all your efforts this past year to help keep our union strong and to help us continue to grow. Happy Holidays!

Jean