From the Desk of the President (January, 2014)

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Executive Board Member-at-Large Election:

Please join me in welcoming Deb Konechne to the Local 34 Executive Board. She was elected via a Special Election at the December 18,2013 Executive Board meeting to fill the vacant E-Board Member-at-Large position and will complete the term of office which runs through April 30, 2014.

March 25, 2014 Day on the Hill:

We will elect up to 30 members to attend the 2014 Council 5 Day on the Hill at the January 8, 2014 General Assembly. Local 34 will cover one day lost, registration fee, round trip mile-age (home/St Paul) and parking for those of our members elected to attend this event. The initial information about this event can be found at: http://afscmemn.org/day-hill-2014. Please note that our Local 34 Secretary, Kathy Kelly, handles the registration of all our members who are elected by the membership. The General Assembly is held at 5:30PM in HSB 110, 525Portland (corner of Portland Ave and 6th St), Minneapolis MN. If you are not able to attend the meeting but would like to have your name placed in nomination for the election, please send me an e-mail by no later than 12:00 noon on Wednesday, January 8, 2014.

Health Insurance:

58% of Hennepin County employees signed up for one of the two Advantage health insurance op-tions for 2014. 60% of those chose the HealthPartners/Park Nicollet network and 40% chose the Fairview/Health East/North Memorial Hospital net-work. While employees were doing their due diligence investigations into the pros and cons of the options before making a decision, there were over 18,000 “hits” on the web site for the information. That reflects well on us as an educated group of employees who made a thoughtful decision during the 2014 enrollment period. Also, we continue to hold our costs down with a climb in the reserves for our health insurance program with over $41 million in those reserves.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA):

Over 2800 county employees (40% of the workforce) contribute to an FSA for their medical costs. This account is used to set aside money on a pre-tax basis for items such as co-pays, deductibles and prescriptions. If you know that you will incur costs during the year, this is an excel-lent tool to set that money aside. Read more about this on the Benefits site at: http://www.hennepin.us/employees/flexible-spending-accounts.

Regionalization:

The South Suburban Hub is sup-posed to open in January 2014. It should be interesting to see if the opening of that Hub will result in an easing of the volume of clients at the NW Hub. The Central/Downtown Hub renovations have begun with the 9th floor of HSB being emptied of staff and furniture. The work has been slow - carpeting is torn out now – and it will be interesting to see how this works with people remaining in the building and being moved around as the renovations take place. I have to admit that I look forward to the day when all the hubs are up and running. We have had so many changes over the last 3- 4 years in how we work, where we work, what the work is that having a break to just breath and do our work would be a pleasure.

Contract:

The vote on the tentative agreement was held on Tuesday, December 10, 2014, with members of all six AFSCME Locals – 34, 552, 1719, 2822, 2864 and 2938—casting an overwhelming number of votes to accept the contract.

For Local 34 – both the proposal to create a HCSP for severance pay and the proposal to create a HCSP savings plan for paycheck by paycheck contributions while currently employed; did not pass. Thank you to everyone who worked on crafting the proposals, presented or at-tended the lunchtime informational meetings, brought the issue to the membership for discussion, made a motion to add this to the ballot for a vote, and finally, talked to their co-workers about the pros and cons of the proposals. Democracy in action is a wonderful process.

Thank you to everyone who exercised your right as a member of our union to participate in voting. Thank you to everyone—Sheila Poechmann, Sheila Lipsco, Julie Miller, Kim Kurth, Laura Ross, Dana Hanson, Kathy Kelly, Janet Keefe, Doug Graham, Lindsay Schwab, Elizabeth Allison, Sametta Hill, Halima Said, Margo Blay-Bugbee, Maggie Keating, Leah Hicks, Kela Williams, Jeanetta Lindo, Kay Powell, Jacquelin Poole, Andrea Lazo-Rice, Deb Konechne, Heather Hemmer, Jodi Ham-mer, Miguel Salazar, Rhonda Griffin, Mara Hill, and Wes Volkenant—who volunteered to sit at one of the voting sites, and to those who counted the ballots with me —Kathy Kelly, Pat Regan, Wes Volkenant, and Laura Ross. We can now all take a deep breath, sit back and relax for a little bit, before we begin the work for the next contract. Look for an invitation from Heather Hemmer early in 2014 to join the EE&O Committee to begin that work.

We still have many issues to address in the coming year and I look forward to working with on them with you. Please contact me if you have any questions about our contract or work. Happy New Year!

Jean