From the Desk of the President (February, 2013)


ANNOUNCEMENTS: Nominations of open officer seats will take place at the February 6, 2013 and March 6, 2013 General Assembly meetings. You should have received a mailing via US mail by now. If not, please let me know so that we can get your address updated. LaQuita Williams is our Nominations Chair. She can be reached at 612-348-0006 if you wish to put your name forward for an office. Elections of those officers will be held in April (ballots sent out Monday, April1, 2013 to your home address and due by Monday, April 22, 2013) if there are any contested races. Joe Weston is once more serving as our Elections Chair.  

Master Negotiations Committee members have been approved. They are: Cathy Cowden, Jean Diederich, Latisha Edwards, Douglas Graham, Dana Hanson, Heather Hemmer, John Herzog, Maslah Jama, Maggie Keating, Kathy Kelly, Kim Kurth, Paul Madison, Vicki Moore, Jacquelin Poole, Kay Powell, Sheila Prok, Patrick Regan, Laura Ross, Miguel Salazar, Mae Vang, Wes Volkenant and Kela Williams. We will join the other five AF-SCME locals in our first meeting on February 11, 2013 to begin the process of identifying what we want to address in our coming round of negotiations for the next contract. Please feel free to share tour ideas with any of the committee members. If you would like a paper copy of our contract, please let me know and I will send one to you.  

Nellie Stone Johnson Scholar-ship Dinner will be held on Thursday, March 21,2013, The local moved to purchase tickets for a table of eight (the money goes to fund scholarships for union members or dependents of union members of color). We will elect members to attend the dinner at the February 6, 2013 General Assembly. Please let me know if you are interested in attending the dinner and your name will be included in that election.  

PTO is popping up again. This is what I sent out last year and am running as a repeat since a number of you have asked for the information: Per the terms of our respective con-tracts, we have the ability to convert to PTO at any time. It is a one time decision - once made, irrevocable. You can retain a maximum of 800 hours of sick leave in a frozen state until you retire (or have to use it if something happens and you have exhausted, all PTO hours). The remainder of you sick leave/vacation converts to PTO. You can accrue up to 480 hours of PTO. If you are getting close to retirement, it could work to your advantage if you have more than 800 hours in sick leave plus have vacation time. Then you might want to consider converting to PTO as you can freeze 800 hours of sick leave - it stays frozen until you retire. The remainder of your sick leave and your vacation would convert to PTO - up to 480 hours as that is the maximum accrual for PTO. I encourage those of you who have an interest in changing over to PTO to contact Benefits with your questions about your specific situation.  

Union dental coverage is available for retirees. If you are getting close to your retirement date and are interested in finding out how to continue the dental coverage, you can call the Council 5 office at 651-450-4990. Identify yourself as being with Local 34 and ask about ongoing dental coverage. They will send you all the information about the costs, benefits, and how to enroll to your home ad-dress. This is a good deal - especially since Medicare does not cover regular dental procedures. If you have a health care savings account, the premium is one of the costs that can be reimbursed.  

Severance pay and taxes if you plan to roll it over to a deferred compensation planů I thought this might be of interest to anyone looking to retire and thinking about what to do with the severance pay. If you plan to roll all or a portion of that severance payout to your deferred compensation plan, you will still have the following withholdings: 6.2 % FICA & 1.45% Medicare, as those taxes are mandated by law to be with-held on any wages paid out. Federal and state taxes will not be withheld as you will pay those taxes when you withdraw the money as a retiree and, theoretically, be in a lower tax bracket. Again, this is one of those money items that you should talk to our folks in Benefits about so that you have the necessary information to make the decision that will be the best one for you.  

Congratulations and best wishes go to Deb Truesdell as she enters the ranks of retirees. Deb was instrumental in implementing ROWE in HSPHD - Human Services and Public Health Department. She held our hands as we have worked on the change from the 9:00 - 5:00 work mind set to looking at what our goals are and how work can be done more effectively to achieve those goals. We are not all in the same place with ROWE; we face bumps in the road, changes in co-workers, changes in work settings, changes in how our services are delivered, plus the myriad of state & federal laws and regulations that determine what will change, and when it will change. However, I think that ROWE has given us an opportunity to aim for the ability to learn what our work is, come to team agreements on how we can get that work done to reach our goals, and then do the work better. Without Deb's persistence and enthusiasm, we would not be quite as far along the ROWE road as we are.  

W-2's for 2012 - thank you to our Treasurer, Patrick Regan, for getting the 2012 W-2's for our Local 34 lost time out so speedily. I received mine well before the one from Hennepin County. Way to go, Pat. For those of you who submitted lost time and were paid during 2012, you should have a W-2 from the local. If you have not received one by now, please contact Pat to get your form.  

Please let me know if you have any questions about our contract. I have found that the best way to learn is by researching questions and finding the answers.