From the Desk of the President (February, 2010)
The February 3, 2010 General Assembly will have two items of note. First, we will elect/choose eight members to attend the Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship dinner held on Thursday, March 25, 2010 at the Prom Center in Oakdale, MN. The evening begins with a reception and silent auction followed by the dinner and program at 6:30 PM. The scholarship winners are the main speakers. It is always refreshing to listen to them share their hopes and aspirations. If you are interested in attending this event as one of our Local 34 representatives and cannot attend the February General Assembly and wish to have your name considered, please contact me by no later than 12:00 noon on that day.
Second, LaQuita Williams, our Nominations Chair, will take nominations for our Local 34 elected offices. Please read her notice in this newsletter which lists all of the positions up for election. The members attending the January 6, 2010 General Assembly approved a number of changes in our Standing Rules for the job duties and responsibilities of the officers of the Local. If you think that you might be interested in putting your name forward for one of the offices and would like to see what the duties and responsibilities of that office are, you can send an e-mail request to our Constitution Chair, Jacquelin Poole, and she will send you a copy of those rules. You can also contact me or any of the other officers with your questions.
The APEX system continues to present us with new problems every pay period. We have raised your issues with County Administrator, Richard Johnson, and Human Resources Director, Rafe Viscasillas. The answer we have been given is that all issues are being investigated and individuals will be informed as they are resolved. My take on this is that the payroll system was supposed to be an improvement over the old system but I have heard of so many issues - lack of payment for holiday pay, lack of payment for overtime, lack of payment for comp time, dependents being dropped or added – or changed, old deductions starting again, current deductions stopping, not all deductions being listed - with no resolution to the issues after three months, that I am beginning to feel that APEX is the proverbial "pig in a poke" situation. No one should go without compensation for their hours worked. We should not have problems with the system switching our dependents. Any money deducted from our wages should be for items we have authorized and there should be a complete listing of those deductions. And we should not have to wait for over three months for a reply for problems reported to IT.EHD/Hennepin as we have been instructed to do. Three months is a very long time to be patient. Please continue to let me know of your concerns and I will try to help get them resolved. If you have sent an e-mail to your payroll contact and to IT.EHD/Hennepin, make sure to forward those to me when describing your situation. We have a right to expect that our issues are resolved timely.
Please read the article about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) that is in this edition of the newsletter. If you qualify for that credit, make sure to apply for it. We can all use as much help as possible to make ends meet during these tough economic times. Please share that information with everyone you know so that they, too, can benefit from it.
I would like to thank Curt Haats, Chief Financial Officer for the Human Services and Public Health Department, for his big picture view of the HSPHD budget and fund balance. The handout he provided and the step by step description of the various funding streams, when fund are received, what work drives the reimbursements the Department receives, how the fund balance rises and falls, what the economic factors are that contribute to the uncertainty of the 2010 budget helped me to better understand why there can be a surplus one year and a deficit the next. I am also very grateful for his clear answers to all of the questions raised by members at the mdeeting.
Rita Salone will be working with Doug Flateau from the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation's Working Partnership program to develop a message for our Local 34 2010 Census initiative. The local approved pursuing a grant from the Census Bureau to fund getting information about the census out to our membership. With Doug's assistance, a proposal was submitted and approved. Rita will work with him to get this information out to us. This year it is vital that all residents in Minnesota be counted as this is a legislative redistricting year. We are in danger of losing one Congressional Representative - quite possibly to the state of Utah. So, when the census taker knocks on your door, please make sure that everyone in your household is counted.
Minnesota Union Leadership Program
It is with great pleasure and pride that I announce that Heather Hemmer and Wes Volkenant from our local have been selected to participate in the Labor Education Services Union Leadership program. This is a series of classes over the course of two years to help develop a deeper understanding of the issues affecting working people today and the challenges unions face. Congratulations to both Heather and Wes! We look forward to your reports on all that you are learning.