From the Desk of the President (1/2004)

 

To quote James Clarke, "A politician thinks of the next election, a statesman of the next generation."   

We suffered in our contract because we had too many politicians, at every level of the spectrum, who voted on bills and referendums based on their next election.  Very few of them voted with the thought of what the consequences of their actions would be on the next generation, or, if they did think of them, were, in my humble opinion, rather selfish.  Those results, in the form of federal and state funding for the many programs supported by tax dollars, have trickled down to the County level.

What that means to us is that we did not get the cost of living adjustment that we are used to receiving, in our contract for 2004 - 2005.  What it means is that some of our co-workers have received their layoff notices for 2004, and more may receive them in 2005.  What it means is that some of our most vulnerable clients may go without the services that have been the stop gap between maintaining a life and not functioning.  What it means is that our jobs will be harder as we face our clients and tell them that they will need to pay more from an already barely sustenance-level budget for their medications, so that they have to choose between a roof over their heads or being healthy. 

Does any of this give you cause to feel angry - pissed off - upset?  It does me.  So, what are you willing to do about it?

We can sit on seats, whining and crying about the unfairness of it all or we can do something positive about it - address your anger and frustrations towards those folks who are truly responsible for the morass we face - those folks who were elected to create a realistic budget for our country, our states, our counties, and our cities - the politicians. 

Why should I care?  Think about the contract we just settled.  Did you like it?  Many of us chose to vote for it because it was the about as good as we could get in light of the fact that we had not prepared ourselves for a strike - we had not adequately positioned ourselves to flex our muscle - that muscle being all of us, united, behind a cause.  It is going to take hard work and it will most likely take us two years to build the base needed to effectively show the Employer - and the politicians - that we mean business.  This effort will take all of us - not just the officers and stewards of this Local - to make this work.  You are going to be called on to participate to help candidates win their races because, as we have seen, the folks who get out there and are successful in getting their candidates elected are the ones who reap the benefits.  Last time around, it was big business.  If it is ever going to be our turn, we, every last one of us, need to put our shoulder to wheel.

How does this start?  By getting involved.  

Is the union going to be involved in this process?  You bet!  We have already begun the process with a meeting on December 18, 2003, of the Presidents and union activists from the Hennepin County, City of Minneapolis and U of M AFSCME Locals to get information about mobilizing our membership for the caucuses next year.  More news will follow in coming newsletters and flyers about your opportunities to participate in this organizing process - internally and externally.   

The power is yours - in the hand used to page through written materials or computer information about the candidates running for offices, in the hand raised to support the candidate of your choice at the political caucuses, in the hand used to distribute literature for that candidate, in the hand used to dial phone numbers to solicit support for that her or him, and, ultimately, in the hand used to cast a vote on election day. 

 In Solidarity,

Jean